The ShopRite LPGA Classic will have new dates and a new purse in 2018.
The 2018 Classic will be held June 8-10 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township. The pure will be $1.75 million up from $1.5 million. The U.S. Women’s Open will conclude on the first Sunday in June — when the Classic has traditionally been held.
The LPGA announced its 2018 schedule Wednesday. The tour is adding two tournaments in California next year as part of a 34-tournament schedule that offers a record $68.75 million in prize money.
Coming off a year in which 17 players earned at least $1 million, the LPGA Tour put together a 2018 schedule that it hopes to build momentum. While it lost two events — Lorena Ochoa Match Play in Mexico and the Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada — the LPGA replaced them with three new tournaments.
Two of them are in the United States, bringing the number of domestic events to 19.
"Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year," LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said Tuesday in a news release.
The ShopRite LPGA Classic began in 1986 and is one of South Jersey’s top sporting events. Few local events in sports or entertainment bring more publicity to the greater Atlantic City area. Shots of the Atlantic City Boardwalk and beaches are often featured on the Golf Channel’s national television coverage.
The Classic has been held Memorial Day week since 2011. Any discussion of schedule change makes tournament followers nervous because the Classic wasn’t held from 2007-09 because of a dispute over dates with the LPGA.
But the event’s future couldn’t be more secure now.
The Eiger Marketing Group announced an agreement last June with the LPGA and ShopRite’s parent company, Wakefern Food Corp., to continue the tournament through 2023. The U.S. Women's Open begins its new spring date at Shoal Creek in Alabama and start on May 31.
Classic officials announced their new date last July.
“We are excited about our new dates,” ShopRite Classic executive director Tim Erensen wrote in a July email.
The LPGA’s new California events will be held in the Los Angeles area and at Lake Merced in San Francisco. The Los Angeles event is the Hugel-JTBC Championship on April 19-22, with the host club to be announced early next year.
South Korea-based L&P Cosmetic will be the title sponsor of the San Francisco event a week later at Lake Merced. Still to be determined is the name of the tournament. The LPGA Tour was at Lake Merced for three years through 2016 until the title sponsor, Swinging Skirts, moved the event to Taiwan.
The other addition is a tournament in Shanghai. The LPGA said it would disclose the name of the event and the course next year. That will be played Oct. 18-21 as part of a seven-tournament swing through Asia. One of those events is the UL International Crown, held every other year and featuring four-player teams from the top eight countries. It will be played at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, South Korea, where the 2015 Presidents Cup was held.
The New Zealand Women's Open will return in 2019 with a spring date.
While the LPGA Tour will visit 14 countries, there is a distinct flow between domestic and international events.
The season starts in the Bahamas on Jan. 25-28, and then three weeks later goes to Australia for one week and Asia for two. The first American event is the Founders Cup in Arizona, and that kicks off 16 consecutive tournaments in the United States over four months.
The tour will have a week off — Masters week at Augusta National for the men — before resuming in Hawaii, followed by the two California events.
The Women's PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be at Kemper Lakes, where Payne Stewart won his first major in the 1989 PGA Championship. The Women's British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Staff Writer Michael McGarry contributed to this report.