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Las Vegas could fit bill for LPGA match-play event

When the LPGA Tour released its 2021 schedule over the holidays, it included a new high-profile event: a match-play tournament to be played the final week of May with a purse of $1.5 million.

But where that event will be contested has yet to be decided, and Las Vegas could be in the mix.

The LPGA would love to get a tournament back to Southern Nevada, something that happened on a regular basis until the early 2000s. But little did anybody know that when Lorena Ochoa won the Takefuji Classic at Las Vegas Country Club in 2006, it would be the last time the LPGA staged a regular tour event in the city.

That could be changing in 2021.

For their part, LPGA officials remain non-committal about the possibility.

“The LPGA Tour continues to finalize competition details regarding the newly announced match-play event that will take place in May,” Christina Lance, director of tour media, said when asked if Las Vegas is in the discussions. “Further information will be shared when appropriate.”

While not confirming Las Vegas is under consideration, Lance didn’t refute the possibility.

Las Vegas would be an ideal choice for the tournament, with so many options available for a challenging venue. The PGA Tour already plays annually at TPC Summerlin, and the Korn Ferry Tour is bringing a new event to Paiute Golf Resort in April.

Through the years, the LPGA Tour has played at Las Vegas Country Club, Canyon Gate, and the defunct Desert Inn and Stardust courses. Winners of Las Vegas events read like a roster of Hall of Famers, including Mickey Wright, Joanne Carner, Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, Laura Davies, Se Ri Pak, Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam and Ochoa.

Las Vegas also is where current stars Danielle Kang and Inbee Park live, and they certainly would love a home game for a change.

One other factor makes Las Vegas a prime spot for the tournament: location. It would be logical for the Tour to want a West Coast venue for the match-play event, which will begin on Wednesday, May 26, and conclude Sunday, May 30.

The Tour heads to San Francisco the following two weeks for the U.S. Women’s Open at the Olympic Club and a regular tour stop at Lake Merced. To have the players close to San Francisco the previous week would be preferable, especially since the coronavirus pandemic remains a question mark on the season for travel considerations.

With Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Portland and San Francisco already holding events, Las Vegas is the prime West Coast location missing from the schedule.

Although no details of the match-play format have been released, if it’s anything like the annual event on the PGA Tour, fans can expect almost all of the top players to take part. Other than the bi-annual Solheim Cup, it will be a rare opportunity for professionals to play a match-play event, something they did often as amateurs.

Bringing the LPGA Tour back to Las Vegas would also be a feather in the cap of Commissioner Mike Whan, who announced last week that he will be stepping away from the job after more than a decade.

“As we look to 2021, we are recapturing the momentum the we had at the beginning of 2020, and we are excited about our future,” Whan said in announcing the new schedule.

Las Vegas golf fans are now waiting to see if that future includes them.

SNGA Winter Classic

Bradley Keyer scored 24 points using the Stableford scoring system to win the championship flight at the SNGA Winter Classic at Cascata Golf Club over the weekend. Keyer held off Kamden Ganir by two points for the title.

Keyer used a run of three consecutive birdies during Saturday’s opening round to build a lead that he maintained during a difficult final round.

Other winners included Craig Garner for low net, and Jed Shreve, who captured both the gross and net senior titles.

The tournament had been rescheduled from December when the state’s coronavirus protocols prevented it from being played.

Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at robertsongt@gmail.com

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