Commissioner Mike Whan touts LPGA's growth, three new events

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LPGA commissioner Mike Whan wore a No. 23 Miami Dolphins jersey to signify a six-year extension through 2023 for the organization's $1 million Race to the CME Globe season-long points competition and CME Group Tour Championship.

NAPLES, Fla. -- There will be both continuity and change in the LPGA's future.

According to commissioner Mike Whan, the 2018 schedule will consist of 34 events, including the UL International Crown. Three events on the 2017 schedule -- Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play, Manulife LPGA Classic and MCKAYSON New Zealand Women's Open -- won't be played, but three new events to be announced will take their place. Two will be held in the western United States and the other outside the U.S., Whan said.

Total purses will be "roughly $69 million," Whan said, a $4 million increase over 2017. Three other new events are on the drawing board for 2019, when the New Zealand stop is also expected to return to the schedule in the spring.

"I'm proud to tell you that the revenues of the LPGA in the last five or six years are up almost 90 percent," Whan said. "We have added 20 title sponsors and over 20 official marketing partners in the last five or six years. Don't know too many sports that could claim that."

Whan wore a "23" Miami Dolphins jersey when he met with reporters Friday, the number signifying a six-year extension for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe season-long points competition and CME Group Tour Championship through 2023.

The season-ending event will remain in Naples, and negotiations are ongoing with Tiburon Golf Club, the tournament's home since 2013, to extend the current agreement beyond 2019.

Ten players will continue to earn LPGA membership through their performance on the Symetra Tour, but the other route to qualifying for the LPGA Tour is evolving in 2018.

There still will be three stages of Q-school, but an eight-round finals played over two weeks called Q Series is replacing the existing five-round finale.

The Q Series field of 108 players vying for 40 to 50 cards will consist of approximately 20 to 35 golfers advancing through Stage 2; players ranked 101st to 150th on the LPGA money list; up to 10 players among the top 75 in the Rolex Rankings; and the top five in the Golfweek/Sagarin college rankings.

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