The LPGA Tour, in recognition of its growing success, has adopted a new points system for its 2014 season that will reward the winner of the season-long "Race to the CME Globe" with $1 million -- the largest payout in women's golf.
Based on the PGA Tour’s FedExCup scheme, but far easier to decipher, the arrangement will start with the tour’s season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on January 26 and run through the end of the campaign at the CME Group Tour Championship. A points reset for the finale, slated for November 20-November 23 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., will favor the player who’s had the best season.
"The addition of this concept fundamentally connects every event on our tour and promises big things in 2014 and beyond," commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement accompanying Wednesday’s announcement. "The stakes have risen dramatically."
Coming off its most robust season in the recent past, the LPGA will offer a 2014 schedule with 32 tournaments, 12 more than were on the calendar when Whan took office in 2010. The commissioner characterized the new competition as "the bow on the present."
Those competing for the season-ending payoff were enthused about the new design.
"Nothing is guaranteed with this new system so this new race is going to make everyone on our tour work a little bit harder because the payoff is so big," said top-ranked Inbee Park.
CME sponsors 2009 Kraft Nabisco champion Brittany Lincicome, who believes golfers and fans will respond well to the idea.
"When [CME] came to me with this idea, obviously I was very excited," Lincicome said in an appearance on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive," one of several media stops players are making to boost the approach. "It’s something to play for all year."
Only tour members are eligible to earn points, with 500 points going to each winner of an official, regular-season competition and each of the five majors offering 625. After the regular season concludes, with the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, points will be reset for the grand finale.
Players failing to make cuts will earn no points, which will also go to the top 40 finishes in each no-cut contest and the top 20 at Ochoa’s event.
While any of the three top points-getters entering the $2 million, 72-player Tour Championship will be able to capture the bonus prize by winning in Naples, only the top nine entering the event will be mathematically eligible for the $1 million. Runner-up will receive $150,000, with $100,000 going to third place.
Should the Tour Championship end in a tie, a playoff would begin on the 18th hole.
"I'm praying for one of these years to have a playoff," Whan said, according to the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson.
The PGA and European Tours provide similar such competitions, with the FedExCup debuting in 2007, followed soon after by the the Race to Dubai.