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Phoenix LPGA International

At Papago Golf Course

By

Michelle Wie

The gallery loves Michelle Wie. The Superstition Mountains are in the background.

©Judy Hedding

UPDATE: A new LPGA tournament makes its debut in Phoenix in March 2011. Check here for the details about the LPGA Founders Cup.

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After the 2009 season the LPGA cut back its schedule due to fewer sponsors and other economy-related issues. Arizona fell of the LPGA list. Hopefully, it will be back. This is a beautiful place to host a golf tournament!

Arizona is home to one of the most popular events on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, the Phoenix LPGA International presented by Mirassou. Prior to 2009, this tournament was called the Safeway International and was played at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, southeast of Phoenix. When Safeway ended its sponsorship of the event after 2008, it was moved to central Phoenix with a new sponsor.

Each year, tens of thousands of fans witness the finest women golfers in the world compete and take part in seven days of special events to raise money for local charities.

Enjoy these photos of previous LPGA events in Arizona.

History of LPGA Golf Tournament in Phoenix

Phoenix and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) have had a relationship for more than two decades. This relationship began in 1980 with a one-day Pro-Am, the Samaritan Corning-PGE LPGA Pro-Am.

The one-day Pro-Am turned into a full-fledged tournament in 1983, The Samaritan Turquoise Classic. The tournament was held in central Phoenix at the Arizona Biltmore Country Club. The Samaritan Turquoise Classic's $150,000 purse was funded by donations from six local businesses, the tournament founders.

Standard Register signed on as the tournament presenter in 1986 and the tournament was renamed the Standard Register Turquoise Classic. The purse was raised to $250,000 and the tournament introduced the concept of the first all-ladies pro-am on the LPGA Tour. In 1987, the Standard Register Turquoise Classic moved to Moon Valley Country Club. In 1989, for the first time in tournament history, the tournament field attracted 100 of the top 100 LPGA professionals to compete.

The Standard Register PING made its debut in 1991. Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, the maker of PING golf equipment, was a loyal sponsor of the tournament and increased their support by signing on as a co-presenter, increasing the purse to $550,000. In 2001 the purse hit the elite $1 million mark and champion Annika Sorenstam redefined golf history becoming the first woman to shoot a 59 in one round.

In 2003, Safeway joined the family of sponsors in Phoenix and signed on as a co-title sponsor with PING.

The 2004 tournament was renamed the Safeway International presented by Coca-Cola. That event introduced new owners in Tournament Golf Foundation Inc., a new venue in Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, a new primary charitable organization in the Safeway Foundation, and a new purse at $1.2 million.

In 2005, the Safeway International featured 50 of the top 50 money winners on the LPGA tour from 2004. Attendance for the week was 106,000.

Record crowds (111,700) attended the 2006 Safeway International. Juli Inkster came from behind to win the event on Sunday.

In 2007 an estimated 151,000 people attended the Safeway International at Superstition Mountain. The tournament produced a record $1 million in charitable outcome and generated $20.8 million in economic impact for the State of Arizona. Local favorite Lorena Ochoa (she went to UofA) won the tournament, shooting 4 rounds below 70 for a total 270 (18 under par). Suzann Pettersen pressured Ochoa, but finished the event 2 strokes back.

In 2008 Lorena Ochoa went back-to-back winning the event by posting scroes in the 60s on each of the four days. She won convincingly-- by seven strokes.

2009 marked a change in sponsorship and location for the event. The new home for the Phoenix LPGA International Presented by Mirassou is the recently renovated Papago Golf Course, a municipal course in Phoenix, just minutes from the airport.

After the 2009 season the LPGA cut back its schedule due to fewer sponsors and other economy-related issues. Arizona fell of the LPGA list. Hopefully, it will be back. This is a beautiful place to host a golf tournament!

Page 1 >> About the Phoenix LPGA International
Page 2 >> Phoenix LPGA International Schedule, Tickets, Directions
Page 3 >> Tips for Attending the Phoenix LPGA International

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