Format for LPGA event in Midland to include 72 teams, 4 days

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

The LPGA announced last spring it was adding another tournament in Michigan, and instead of it being a standard stroke-play event, this one would use a team format.

The Great Lakes Bay Invitational, which will be played July 15-20 at Midland Country Club, revealed its format on Monday, one that will include 72 two-woman teams and take place over four days with a Saturday finish.

Veteran golfer Suzann Pettersen says the format for the Great Lakes Bay Invitational, the LPGA event in Midland, is "truly unique and new for the sport."

The inaugural event will feature foursomes (alternate shot) in rounds one and three and four-ball (best ball) for the second and fourth rounds. After 36 holes, the field will be a cut to the low 35 teams and any ties for 35th. In the event of a tie after 72 holes, the champions will be determined by a hole-by-hole playoff using the foursomes format.

“We have seen the excitement a team format can bring with events such as the Solheim Cup and the UL International Crown,” LPGA veteran Suzann Pettersen said. “I’ve been fortunate to play on eight Solheim Cup teams and I’m thrilled the LPGA and Dow have created an Official LPGA Event that is truly unique and new for the sport.”

To make up the 144-player field, the top 70 based on the 2019 LPGA Priority List will have the opportunity to choose their playing partner, who must have LPGA Tour playing status. The balance of the field will be determined by sponsor exemptions, who must play together.

The tournament has a purse of $2 million and the winning team will split $485,000 while each winner will receive the standard two-year winner’s exemption on the LPGA Priority List, as well as a one-year exemption into three major championships: ANA Inspiration, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and The Evian Championship.

“The team format is just as much for fans as it is for the players,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said. “When this event debuts next July, fans from the Great Lakes Bay Region and from around the globe will be invited to enjoy the fun, interactive energy created by blending competition with camaraderie. I’m really excited that the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational will be included in the 2019 LPGA schedule.”

The Great Lakes Bay Invitational is one of two LGPA events in Michigan. The Meijer LPGA Classic is played June 10-16 at Blythefield CC near Grand Rapids. After three years, the Volvik Championship played at Travis Pointe CC in Ann Arbor was not on the 2019 schedule, but tournament organizers believe they can still land a title sponsor and take an open spot on the schedule.

The LPGA events are part of a growing professional golf schedule in Michigan. The PGA returns for the first time since 2009 with the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic from June 27-30 at Detroit Golf Club. The Ally Challenge debuted on the Champions Tour this year with the second installment taking place Sept. 14-16 at Warwick Hills Golf and CC in Grand Blanc.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau