THE Vic Open may not be the only mixed event on the international schedule soon with the world’s biggest men’s and women’s Tour considering a joint tournament.
New PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed in an interview with US TV network Golf Channel overnight that the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour could soon be following the Vic Open model.
Monahan, who took over from Tim Finchem on January 1, said the Tournament of Champions being played in Hawaii this week could soon feature LPGA stars as well.
“You could see men and women here at the Tournament of Champions,” Monahan told the network’s Rich Lerner in a lengthy interview set to air this week.
“That is something we are thinking about and talking to Mike (Whan) and the LPGA about.
“We would like to see that happen. We have some interest from sponsors.”
The format of the event hasn’t been finalised but the two organisations will undoubtedly study the extremely successful Vic Open.
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Since 2012 both the men’s and women’s Vic Opens have been played concurrently and the innovative concept has proved a huge success with players, sponsor and fans alike.
The format sees both fields compete on the same course with Sunday’s final round featuring alternating groups of men and women, the final women’s pair finishing one group ahead of the men.
Players have been supportive of the concept with seven-time major winner Karrie Webb teeing up in the tournament last year and a purse increase for 2017 suggests sponsors, too, see value in the product.
Both the men’s and women’s field will play for a minimum of $500,00 each in 2017 with a further increase likely in 2018 and beyond.
The PGA Tour and LPGA Tour announced a strategic alliance in March of 2016 but the revelation about the possibility of a mixed event as early as 2018 comes as a surprise.
Monahan, however, said that announcement was merely the formalisation of a long standing working relationship.
“We have been partners with the LPGA for a long time, so when we made the announcement it really wasn’t anything new,” Monahan says in the interview. “It’s just more formalised.
“We are spending more time talking about how do we drive more people to the game, both men and women, girls and boys.
“Can we potentially get men and women into the same field of play? Again, another thing that no other sport can do, and then looking at media.
“Are there some shared efficiencies with how we present our tours to the world at large?”
In 2014 the men’s and women’s US Open tournaments were played in consecutive weeks at the Pinehurst Resort but a joint four round tournament would be a first.
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