After a two-year hiatus, the LPGA will return to Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg. The $1.3 million Kingsmill Championship is scheduled for Sept. 6-9 -- the week before the Women's British Open.
Kingsmill played host to the LPGA for seven years, from 2003-09. The event was terminated in September 2009 as the resort's ownership changed. The tournament was then sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, which was taken over by Belgium-based InBev, and the new owner declined to renew a contract with the LPGA.
Jon Podany, the LPGA's chief marketing officer, said player reaction to the Kingsmill return has been "through the roof. I was in our board meeting in November when we first talked about the possibility. I can tell you the immediate reaction was eyes lit up. I'm not sure there's any other venue (that would have generated that level of enthusiasm)."
Now owned by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Kingsmill and its challenging courses are primed to bring back an event that was considered by players to be a fifth major given Kingsmill's hospitality and the then-$2.2 million purse.
Podany said finding a long-term title sponsor is the key to upgrading the purse back to its 2009 level.
"Obviously we'e both going into this with the hope that (the tournament is) here to stay," Podany said, referring to Xanterra.
Previous winners at Kingsmill include Hall of Fame champions Se Ri Pak, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam. Suzann Pettersen, who is ranked No. 2 in the world, earned her first LPGA Tour win at Kingsmill in 2007.
More than 1,500 volunteers staffed the previous tournaments, which were traditionally played in May, on Mother's Day weekend. The 2013 event will be May 2-5, the week before Mother's Day, Podany said, to avoid conflicting with the PGA Tour's Players Championship, a tournament that grabs most golf headlines.
The LPGA is no stranger to Hampton Roads. Prior to its tournament in Williamsburg, the LPGA also had a 14-year run at various sites Southside from 1979-92. Then winners included Hall of Fame champions such as Juli Inkster, Amy Alcott and Kathy Whitworth.
The LPGA's 2012 schedule includes 27 tournaments (up from 23 in 2011) worth $47 million in prize money.
Along with the new tournaments, Commissioner Mike Whan said the North American events will get live television coverage on the Golf Channel on the weekend, instead of being shown on tape delay.
The Associated Press contributed to this reportCopyright © 2015, CT Now