Pure Silk-Bahamas Classic to open LPGA season
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Sep 27, 2013
There’s an old saying that goes, “when it rains, it pours”. In this case, it was showers of blessings for The Bahamas, as the country has landed a historical hole in one.
Even after they had to shorten the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas Classic due to flooding of the Ocean Club Golf Course in May of this year, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has decided to return to “paradise”, opening the 2014 season on the 18-hole par 72 championship golf course. Next year’s event will be held January 20-26, and it will be played at the One&Only Ocean Club Golf Course, located on Paradise Island. When it tees off, it will be termed as an historic accomplishment for both The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and the LPGA, which usually starts its season in February, with the Asia-Pacific tournament. As for the Ministry of Tourism, it will be the first professional sporting event in 2014 in The Bahamas.
Reportedly, the last time an official purse tournament was held in January by the LPGA was in 2001. Apparently, three tournaments were played that month. The 2nd Annual LPGA Pure Silk-Bahamas Classic is expected to have a total purse prize of $1.3 million. The top female golfers in the world will compete over 72 holes, for the top prize.
“This is one of the high profile events that the minister wants us to have, where we basically get The Bahamas to be recognized globally as a competitive destination for sports tourism,” said Greg Rolle, director of sports tourism in the Ministry of Tourism. “We were able to work with certain LPGA affiliates who were able to bring the Pure Silk-Bahamas Classic back to the country this year. They had it in May, but for 2014 it will be January 20-26, so now we are the first stop in a series of tournaments on their calendar.
“We estimate that 600-700 persons will be coming down. This is a big plus for us, especially knowing that this is ladies golf. The players will be getting that good backdrop of water and Atlantis, which has partnered with us, as we showcase The Bahamas globally. This is key for us.”
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said that it will be great to start their season in “paradise”.
“Playing in The Bahamas in an east coast time zone will be a great way for our fans to watch our season-opening event live on Golf Channel,” said Whan.
Due to the rain, the 2013 tournament was played over 36 holes. Ilhee Lee won the inaugural tournament, becoming a Rolex first-time winner.
“We are big believers in the LPGA,” said Barbasol/Pure Silk Chief Executive Officer Thomas Murray. “We had a tremendous inaugural tournament last May and are thrilled to have the opportunity to kick off the LPGA season in The Bahamas.”
David Johnson, director general of the Ministry of Tourism, said that The Bahamas is excited to be the season-opening event location for the LPGA tour in 2014.
“We think there is a special relationship between golf fans and early tour events as everyone dreams of summer and imagines the joy golf will bring them,” said Johnson. “These are certainly emotions we are happy to be associated with in The Bahamas. We fully expect that our weather will be picture perfect for this event and the players, and viewers, will get a good look at the attractions of our destination. Our islands are a year-round destination for golfers and this January kick off for the ladies’ golf season will surely showcase that.”
Golf Channel will feature four-day live coverage of the event.
"After a challenging inaugural year, we are excited to be back at the Ocean Club, preparing for the 2014 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic," said Jeff Raedle, president of Global Golf Management, which manages the tournament. "The players, fans and television viewers will truly see the event shine to its fullest with the new date."