LPGA opens season in Florida

The LPGA Tour kicked off its 2015 season on Wednesday with the inaugural Coates Golf Championship at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club in Ocala, Fla., the first of 34 events around the world in a schedule announced this week.

The women’s tour was down to only 24 tournaments in 2010 and fan interest was dwindling before Commissioner Michael Whan took over with a goal of getting that number back up to 30.

And the players are excited to start the season in Florida at Golden Ocala (pictured), after the Sunshine State was without a tournament a few years ago.

“The field strength alone shows how excited the tour is to be here and to play in Florida, in a place where a lot of the players live,” said Morgan Pressel, noting that 19 of the top 20 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings in the field.

Now Florida will bookend the season, with the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship set for Tiburon Golf Club a the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Tiburon, Fla., on Nov. 19-22.

There will be three tournaments in California over a span of about a month early in the season.

Anna Nordqvist of Sweden will be at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad to defend her title in the Kia Classic on March 26-29.

Lexi Thompson will defend her title in the first LPGA major of the year, the former Nabisco Dinah Shore, which will have another new sponsor and be known as the ANA Inspiration when it is played at Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage on April 2-5.

Lydia Ko of South Korea will be the defender for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, on the outskirts of San Francisco, on April 23-26.

The LPGA Championship has been replaced by the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the first time the LPGA has teamed up with the PGA of America, for the second major of the year on June 11-14 at famed Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.

The rest of the LPGA’s five majors are the Women’s U.S. Open at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa., on June 9-12, the Ricoh Women’s British Open on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry Resort in Scotland from July 30-Aug. 2, and the Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France, on Sept. 10-13.

The Solheim Cup, matching the United States against Europe, will be played Sept. 17-20 at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Sankt Leon-Rot, Germany.

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