November 21, 2023 - 11:54 am
The future of the LPGA Match Play became a huge question mark from the moment Pajaree Anannarukarn hoisted the winner’s trophy in May at Shadow Creek.
The original three-year contract for the tournament was completed and no new deal was announced. The idea that the tournament had run its course seemed to be growing as the weeks went by.
Las Vegas golf fans were handed a pleasant surprise with the release of the 2024 season schedule, however. The tournament is not only back, but it returns with a new date and a bigger purse. Both moves should bring more of the top players to Las Vegas than in past years.
The LPGA Match Play at Shadow Creek will be played April 3-7, a change from its first three years when it was played on Memorial Day weekend in late May. The earlier date comes with cooler temperatures, giving players some relief at an event that is as draining as any on tour. The event is played over five days. The final four golfers play seven matches in that span, making endurance a key factor.
The 2024 tournament will feature a $2 million purse. That’s a $500,000 increase from years past when the LPGA Match Play shared the dubious honor of the lowest purse on tour.
“We look forward to returning to Las Vegas next April for the LPGA Match Play at Shadow Creek,” said Casey Ceman, the LPGA’s vice president of tournament business affairs. “MGM Resorts has long been a great advocate for the LPGA Tour, both through serving as a tournament host and sponsoring a number of our players, and Shadow Creek is a spectacular venue that our players love to tackle.”
The tournament does not have a title sponsor at this point after Bank of Hope filled that role the first three years. Officials from Bank of Hope have not responded to requests about their involvement — or lack thereof — in the tournament going forward.
MGM Resorts is excited to be part of the tournament once again.
“We anticipate another strong match-play event next April,” said Lance Evans, senior vice president of sports and sponsorships. “We have a great partnership with the LPGA Tour and look forward to hosting some of the world’s best golfers at Shadow Creek.”
Scott Ghertner, executive director of public relations for entertainment and sports, said the company does not reveal terms of its partnership agreements when asked how long the new deal with the LPGA will run. Standard deals for the LPGA Tour are three years.
The new date places Las Vegas as the final stop of a three-week West Coast swing on the LPGA calendar. It follows the LA Open in Palos Verdes, Calif., and the inaugural Arizona Championship in Phoenix. An open week follows before the LPGA Tour plays its first major of the season, the Chevron Championship, in Houston. That makes Shadow Creek the final tuneup for players leading into the major, another key to attracting top players.
The first two editions of the LPGA Match Play fell the week before the U.S. Women’s Open, and last year’s tournament was sandwiched between two events in New Jersey.
“With new events and improved geographic flow enhancing the athlete experience, our global reach and competitiveness have never been stronger,” LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said in a statement.
The Las Vegas event is one of 10 tournaments on the 2024 schedule to boost its purse. Total purses from 33 official events will reach a record $118 million in 2024, a 69 percent increase over the past three years.
“The 2024 LPGA Tour schedule reflects our historic growth,” Marcoux Samaan said.
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at email@example.com.