Women's major golf championships


Women's major golf championships

Women's golf has evolved a set of major championships which parallels that in men's golf, but the women's system is younger and has been less stable than the men's. Many professional stroke play events for women are played over three rounds (54 holes), but the majors are played over four rounds (72 holes), which is the standard length of regular men's tournaments. This is the same distinction as for senior men's tournaments.

LPGA majors

Current position

The LPGA's list of majors has changed several times over the years, with the last change in 2001, after the du Maurier Classic, held in Canada, lost its primary sponsorship after that country passed severe restrictions on tobacco advertising. The tournament, now known as the Canadian Women's Open, is still a regular event on the LPGA tour, but with a lower profile (although its winner receives an automatic berth in the LPGA season championship). The LPGA replaced the du Maurier Classic on its list of majors with the Women's British Open. The LPGA currently recognizes four majors. In the order in which they are played each year these are:

*Kraft Nabisco Championship
*LPGA Championship
*U.S. Women's Open
*Women's British Open

As in men's golf, three of the majors are played in the United States and one is played in the United Kingdom. The U.S. and British Opens match their male equivalents, and the LPGA Championship is analogous to the PGA Championship, so by default the Kraft Nabisco Championship is the closest equivalent of The Masters. Unlike the men's equivalents, with the sole exception of the U.S. Women's Open, the women's majors have title sponsors.

The winners of the four women's majors receive automatic entry to the LPGA's season championship, the LPGA Playoffs at The ADT. The Champions Tour has no season-ending championship. The PGA Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs are a series of four events; while major winners are technically not guaranteed entry into even the first playoff event, the FedEx Cup point allocations for major winners are sufficiently high that the winner of one major is essentially assured of making the top 144 in points and qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

History

Seven different events are classified as having been LPGA majors at some time. The number in each season has fluctuated between two and four. The first tournament which is now included in the LPGA's official list of major victories is the 1930 Western Open, although this is a retrospective designation as the LPGA was not founded until 1950.

*Western Open: 1930-1967
*Titleholders Championship: 1937-42; 1946-66; 1972
*U.S. Women's Open: 1950-date
*LPGA Championship: 1955-date
*du Maurier Classic: 1979-2000
*Kraft Nabisco Championship: 1983-date
*Women's British Open: 2001-date

LPGA major winners

The first table shows the four current majors in the order in which they are played each year. The two tables for the earlier periods do not necessarily show the tournaments in the order in which they were played.

The "Grand Slam"

No woman has completed a four-major Grand Slam, but Babe Zaharias won all three majors contested in 1950 and Sandra Haynie won both majors in 1974.

Six women have completed a "Career Grand Slam" by winning four different majors. There are variations in the set of four tournaments involved as the players played in different eras. The six are: Pat Bradley; Juli Inkster; Annika Sörenstam; Louise Suggs; Karrie Webb; and Mickey Wright.

The LPGA recognizes Webb as its only "Super Career Grand Slam" winner, since she is the only golfer to have won five events recognized by the LPGA as majors. To win the Super Career Grand Slam, a golfer must have won:
* The du Maurier Classic between 1979 and 2000, when it was recognized by the LPGA as a major;
* the Women's British Open in 2001 or later; and
* the other three currently existing majors.Webb won the du Maurier Classic in 1999 and the Women's British Open in 2002.

Other regular tours

In men's (non-senior) golf, the four majors are agreed globally. All the principal tours acknowledge the status of the majors via their sponsorship of the Official World Golf Rankings, and the prize money is official on the three richest regular tours (the PGA, European, and Japanese tours). This is not the case in women's golf, but the significance of this is limited, as the LPGA Tour is much more dominant in women's golf than the PGA Tour is in men's golf. For example, the BBC has been known to use the LPGA definition of women's majors without qualifying it. Also, the Ladies' Golf Union, the governing body for women's golf in the UK and Republic of Ireland and the organiser of the Women's British Open, states on its official site that the Women's British Open is "the only Women’s Major to be played outside the U.S." [cite web|url=http://www.lgu.org/championships/weetabix_womensopen_2007/ |title=Women's British Open breaks new ground at St Andrews |publisher=Ladies' Golf Union |accessdate=2007-04-01]

The Ladies European Tour does not sanction any of the LPGA majors which are played in the United States, and only has two events which it designates as majors on its schedule, namely the Women's British Open and the Evian Masters, which is played in France. The Ladies European Tour had long tacitly acknowledged the dominance of the LPGA Tour by not scheduling any of its events to conflict with any of the LPGA majors played in the U.S., but that changed slightly in 2008 when the LET scheduled a tournament opposite the LPGA Championship. Also, while the LPGA Tour does not recognize the Evian Masters as a major, it co-sanctions the tournament as a regular tour event. Since it is played the week before the Women's British Open, and its winner earns an automatic spot in the season-ending LPGA Playoffs at The ADT, virtually all top LPGA players play the Evian Masters.

The LPGA of Japan Tour, which is the second richest women's golf tour, has its own set of three majors: the Japan Open, the JLPGA Championship and the JLPGA Tour Championship. However, these events attract little notice outside Japan.

Futures Tour

Since 2006, the Futures Tour, the LPGA's developmental tour, has designated the Michelob Ultra Futures Charity Golf Classic, an event which has been held since 1985, as a major championship. It was the Tour's first $100,000 purse. The idea of having a "major" on a developmental tour is a new one, driven by marketing, and it is unlikely to have much impact on the conventional definition of a women's major.

Women's senior golf

Professional women's senior golf is in its infancy, and does not yet have a roster of majors. The Legends Tour, originally the Women's Senior Golf Tour, played its first season in 2001.

Notes and references

ee also

*Golfers with most LPGA major championship wins
*Chronological list of LPGA major golf champions
*Men's major golf championships
*Senior major golf championships


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