Toledo-area LPGA tournament gets moved to July 23-26

By Kyle Rowland - The Toledo Blade

The Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana will be the second event back on the LPGA Tour calendar.

The tournament’s 35th edition will take place July 23 to 26 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, two weeks later than originally scheduled.

What is unknown, however, is whether fans will be in attendance.

“We’re hopeful that the governor will lift the social restrictions pertaining to outdoor sporting events. We felt the additional two weeks would be beneficial,” tournament director Judd Silverman said. “Our goal is to play the tournament in front of spectators. We’re working closely with the LPGA to develop a plan for a safe environment with hand sanitizer stations throughout the golf course and social distancing encouraged.”

The PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin is scheduled the week before the Marathon Classic. The Memorial is among the first PGA Tour events that could have fans.

“We absolutely want to have our fans out here,” Memorial Tournament director Dan Sullivan told the Columbus Dispatch. “We absolutely know that we have to put protocols in place. We’re going to rely on experts to tell us what those protocols should be to ensure that people are safe and healthy while coming out to an open environment like a golf course but standing next to people. But we also know that the decision-making will be provided for us. We are committed to complying with anything that is communicated to us by the governor and his protocols that are in place.”

Players and caddies will be tested for the coronavirus when they arrive on-site at the Marathon Classic and additional testing could take place after the 36-hole cut.

Several sponsors provided the LPGA Tour with a contribution to spread around to multiple tournaments, raising the purse of the Marathon Classic to $2 million for the first time. The winner will receive a record $300,000, nearly $40,000 more than last year’s winning check.

One casualty of the date change is that the final round will no longer air on CBS. Instead, the tournament will have live coverage on Golf Channel all four days, including the 3 p.m.-6 p.m. window Saturday and Sunday.

The 2021 final round is still scheduled for CBS.

The LPGA Tour’s first event will be the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Mich., July 15 to 18.

“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,” LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “While July seems like a long way away, we are certainly aware that restarting our season in Michigan, Ohio and New Jersey will require a continued improvement in the situation in each of those states.”

The 2020 LPGA schedule originally featured 33 official events in 12 countries with a record total prize fund of $75.1 million. Now, the tour will have 21 events in 10 countries for more than $56 million, a significant decrease in prize money that should result in strengthened tournament fields.

“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,” Whan said. “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.”

The Marathon Classic has raised $11.5 million for 185 northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan children’s charities since its inception in 1984.

“The hope, obviously, is that we can have a tournament with spectators to provide the community with another great professional golf sporting event while trying to raise money for 25 northwest Ohio children’s charities,” Silverman said.

By Kyle Rowland

The Toledo Blade

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