ShopRite LPGA Classic Final

In-Kyung Kim celebrates after winning the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Sunday in Galloway Township.

The ShopRite LPGA Classic will have a high-profile opening act the next few years.

Starting next year, The U.S. Women’s Open will conclude on the first Sunday in June — when the Classic has traditionally been held. That means the Classic will move to the first full week in June and usually end on the month’s second Sunday. Next year’s tournament will be held June 8-10 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township.

“We are excited about our new dates,” ShopRite Classic executive director Tim Erensen wrote in an email Tuesday.

The 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 last month announced an agreement with the LPGA and ShopRite’s parent company, Wakefern Food Corp., to continue the tournament through 2023.

The Eiger Marketing Group runs the Classic, and Erensen is one of the group’s managing partners. The key deal is with ShopRite. No golf tournament can exist without a title sponsor. As a result of the new deal, the Classic’s purse will be raised from $1.5 to $1.75 million beginning next year.

“We are confident,” Erensen said, “that with our increased purse and the new extension from ShopRite securing the event through 2023 that we will continue to attract strong fields and many of the game’s best players.”

The U.S. Women’s Open is one of the world’s premier golf tournaments. It was held this past weekend at Trump National in Bedminster (Somerset County). The Open has been held in either June or July the past few years.

United States Golf Association moved the tournament to conclude on the first Sunday in June as part of the organization’s plan to hold its four open events — the Senior Women’s Open; the Women’s Open; the Men’s Open; and the Senior Men’s Open — during a seven-week period that starts in May and ends in June.

The Women’s Open will be held May 31-June 3 next year in Shoal Creek, Alabama, and May 30-June 2 in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2019. The 2019 ShopRite Classic will be held June 7-9.

The Classic will be held after the Open in 2021-23. There is a chance it could be held before the Open in 2020 because Memorial Day is so early (May 25) that year, according to Erensen.

The fact that the Open is on the East Coast the next two years will make it easier for players to travel to the Classic. The Classic should also get a boost if the Open champion plays in the tournament.

In-Kyung Kim won this year’s ShopRite Classic, finishing before a packed 18th hole grandstand on June 4.

The Classic’s two-day pro-am is the largest of any LPGA, PGA or Champions tour event, with 1,000 golfers playing on four courses — the Bay and Pines at Seaview, Galloway National and Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield. The tournament has raised more than $32 million for charity.

“Locally, we love the (new) week as well,” Erensen said, “and look forward to continuing to be part of kicking off summer on the Jersey Shore.”

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Twitter @AcpressMcGarry

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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