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For the first time in 45 years, the LPGA Tour will not be going to Asia during a season.
The tour lost three tournaments from its Asia swing in late February and early March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the LPGA said two more tournaments scheduled for October in South Korea and Japan were canceled for 2020 and will return next year. Two other events in China and Taiwan that were part of the fall swing previously were canceled because of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
The LPGA first started playing in Asia with the Mizuno Classic in Japan in 1976.
The LPGA Tour added a one-time event called the LPGA Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee. That will be Oct. 22-25 in Greensboro, Georgia, for a purse of $1.3 million.
The LPGA also had a ”Drive On” tournament at Inverness to mark its return to golf on July 31.
”Since we unfortunately cannot travel to Asia, we felt it was very important to add another competitive opportunity for our players,” Commissioner Mike Whan said.
Losing the Asia swing creates some time off for the LPGA that leads to a big finish. After the KPMG Women’s PGA at Aronimink, Oct. 8-11, there will be a week off before the new Drive On tournament, and then three weeks off before an event in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.
After Thanksgiving, the LPGA finishes with a tournament in the Dallas area, the U.S. Women’s Open in Houston and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida.
Even so, the cost of the pandemic is evident in opportunities. The LPGA Tour went into 2020 with a 34-tournament schedule. It will end the year with 17 tournaments.