BELLEAIR — Two months ago, Belleair sports fans thought LPGA stars would be rolling into town about now for the Pelican Women’s Championship, which was slated to commence with a series of events May 11-17.
The coronavirus pandemic derailed those plans, leading the LPGA to announce April 3 that the event was rescheduled for Nov. 9-15.
Just three days later, however, those plans were scuttled again.
On April 6, Augusta National Golf Club announced that it would hold the Masters on the same date.
So, the LPGA decided to take a mulligan, and on April 29 announced that the Belleair tournament will now be held Nov. 19-22 at the Pelican Golf Club.
“One thing that has become clear is that there will be no ‘opening bell’ regarding a return to safe play in this new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan in a statement. “To be honest, being ‘first’ has never been the goal when it comes to returning to play in this new normal. We have built a schedule that we think is as safe as possible given what we know about travel bans, testing availability, and delivering events that our sponsors and our athletes will be excited to attend.”
The announcement comes with an added bonus, as the LPGA announced increases to the purses of numerous 2020 tournaments. The Pelican Women’s Championship will now have a $2 million purse, which is up from $1.75 million.
“Many of our remaining events will feature higher purses in 2020 thanks in part to some of our sponsors, who could not reschedule their events, offering some of their prize funds to increase other purses,” said Whan. “In what has been a very challenging year for everyone, we are so thankful to our partners for their creativity, collaboration and dedication to helping our athletes get the most out of the playing opportunities they will have in this unprecedented season.”