The LPGA Tour returns to Pinellas County for the first time in 30 years this week as the Pelican Golf Club in Belleair welcomes the Pelican Women’s Championship.
The tournament, originally scheduled for mid May, was postponed due to the coronavirus. It now takes place Thursday through Sunday.
The last time the LPGA played in the Tampa Bay area was 1989, for the St. Petersburg Women’s Open.
“I think it’s important for not only the area but women’s golf and women’s sports in general, given everything that’s going on,” said Scott Reid, the tournament’s executive director. “I think it’s going to be wonderful for the community here that’s hosting it, in addition to the greater Tampa area and really the whole state of Florida.”
The tour schedule was reduced from 33 tournaments to 18 this season because of the coronavirus, so the Pelican Championship is one of four remaining in 2020. The 108-player field is scheduled to include world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and Seminole native and now Gulfport resident Brittany Lincicome.
“Generally, we’re excited that we’re still able to have the event despite the scenario with (the coronavirus) and everything,” Reid said. “We feel very fortunate and appreciative of (Pelican Golf Club owner) Dan Doyle, the Pelican Golf Club and our sponsors that we’re still able to deliver a professional women’s golf tournament in these times.”
Here’s what you should know about the tournament:
No fans permitted
Like many other sporting events during the pandemic, the tournament will not permit fans to attend. Organizers came to the decision in September after consulting with public health officials and the LPGA, according to Belleair’s general agenda notes.
About 500 people, including VIPs and sponsors, will be allowed.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming fans back next year, hopefully,” Reid said, “and building this event on something that will stay here for a long time.”
The former Belleview Biltmore Golf Club, constructed in 1925, has been renovated since Dex Imaging’s Dan Doyle Sr. and Jr. took ownership in May 2017. Renovations, including notable differences to the clubhouse and course, were completed over the summer.
The tournament postponement gave the club a bit of “breathing room” to make sure everything was just right for the tournament, Reid said.
"I think (the players) are going to walk away saying, ‘Wow, what a wonderful facility in Pelican Golf Club and what a wonderful community within the town of Belleair and Tampa Bay and St. Pete,’ " Reid said.
“I think it’s something that they’re going to want to make sure it’s on their calendar every year that they’re going to come and play in the Pelican Women’s Championship.”
Besides Ko and Lincicome, the field will also include 85 of the top 100 in the world rankings and eight of the top 10 players on the tour money list.
“No question, I think we have one of the best, if not the best, field (of players) for the LPGA Tour events that have happened this year,” Reid said. “We have a great field and a lot of young and up-and-coming stars, as well.”
Lincicome, 35, is a two-time winner of the major ANA Inspiration among her eight career tour wins. She enters the tournament ranked No. 56 on the money list with $153,279 in earnings in 10 events this season.
Also with area ties are Jessica Korda and Nathalie Filler.
Korda, 27, of Sarasota, has five career wins and is ranked 24th in the world. Her younger sister, Nelly, ranked No. 3, will not be able to compete after having to withdraw from the Women’s PGA Championship last month due to a back injury.
Filler, a Tampa resident, most recently won the North Florida PGA Women’s Sectional Championship in Palm Harbor in June. The Pelican Championship will be her first LPGA Tour event.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better field turnout,” Reid said.
LPGA Tour Pelican Women’s Championship
Thursday-Sunday, Pelican Golf Club, Belleair
Purse: $1.5 million
History: This is the inaugural event
TV: Tape delay, 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel
Here’s a full list of who’s competing (in alphabetical order, Florida players in bold):
1. Brittany Altomare of Shrewsbury, Mass.
2. Pajaree Anannarukarn of Bangkok, Thailand
3. Celine Boutier of Montrouge, France
4. Nicole Broch Larsen of Hiellerod, Denmark
5. Sierra Brooks of Orlando
6. Ashleigh Buhai of Johannesburg, South Africa
7. Matilda Castren of Helsinki, Finland
8. Tiffany Chan of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
9. Jennifer Chang of Cary, N.C.
10. Chella Choi of Seoul, Republic of Korea
11. In Gee Chun of Seoul, Republic of Korea
12. Cydney Clanton of Concord, N.C.
13. Jenny Coleman of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.
14. Daniela Darquea of Quito, Ecuador
15. Perrine Delacour of Laon, France
16. Lindy Duncan of Jupiter
17. Austin Ernst of Seneca, S.C.
18. Jodi Ewart Shadoff of North Yorkshire, England
19. Maria Fassi of Pachuca, Mexico
20. Nathalie Filler of Tampa
21. Dana Finkelstein of Chandler, Ariz.
22. Sandra Gal of Dusseldorf, Germany
23. Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas
24. Julieta Granada of Asuncion, Paraguay
25. Hannah Green of Perth, Australia
26. Jaye Marie Green of Jupiter
27. Natalie Gulbis of Lake Las Vegas, Va.
28. Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif.
29. Nasa Hataoka of Ibaraki, Japan
30. Muni He of Chengdu, China
31. Brooke M. Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario
32. Jillian Hollis of Rocky River, Ohio
33. Mi Jung Hur of Daejeon, Republic of Korea
34. Eun Hee Ji of Seoul, Republic of Korea
35. Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Calif.
36. Moriya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand
37. Danielle Kang of Las Vegas, Nev.
38. Haeji Kang of Seoul, Republic of Korea
39. Cristie Kerr of Scottsdale, Ariz.
40. Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass.
41. Sei Young Kim of Seoul, Republic of Korea
42. Katherine Kirk of Sunrise Beach, Australia
43. Cheyenne Knight of Aledo, Texas
44. Jin Young Ko of Seoul, Republic of Korea
45. Lydia Ko of Auckland, New Zealand
46. Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Smoerum, Denmark
47. Jessica Korda of Jupiter
48. Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster, Colo.
49. Brittany Lang of McKinney, Texas
50. Bronte Law of Stockport, England
51. Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, Calif.
52. Esther Lee of Artesia, Calif.
53. Jeong Eun Lee of Seoul, Republic of Korea
54. Mi Hyang Lee of Seoul, Republic of Korea
55. Minjee Lee of Perth, Australia
56. Jeong-eun Lee of Gyeonggi-Do, Republic of Korea
57. Stacy Lewis of The Woodlands, Texas
58. Xiyu Lin of Guangzhou, China
59. Brittany Lincicome of Seminole
60. Pernilla Lindberg of Bollnas, Sweden (SWE)
61. Yu Liu of Beijing, China
62. Leona Maguire of County Cavan, Ireland
63. Mo Martin of Naples
64. Caroline Masson of Gladbeck, Germany
65. Ally McDonald of Fulton, Miss.
66. Stephanie Meadow of Jordanstown, Northern Ireland
67. Giulia Molinaro of Treviso, Italy
68. Haley Moore of Crystal Lake, Ill.
69. Mind Muangkhumsakul of Banphai, Thailand
70. Azahara Munoz of San Pedro de Alcantara, Spain
71. Yealimi Noh of Concord, Calif.
72. Ryann O’Toole of San Clemente, Calif.
73. Su Oh of Melbourne, Australia
74. Amy Olson of Oxbow, N.D.
75. Bianca Pagdanganan of Mandaluyong City, Philippines
76. Annie Park of Levittown, N.Y.
77. Hee Young Park of Seoul, Republic of Korea
78. Sung Hyun Park of Seoul, Republic of Korea
79. Pornanong Phatlum of Chaiyaphum, Thailand
80. Gerina Piller of Roswell, N.M.
81. Sophia Popov of Heidelberg, Germany
82. Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton
83. Robynn Ree of Redondo Beach, Calif.
84. Mel Reid of Derby, England
85. Gabriela Ruffels of Melbourne, Australia
86. Madelene Sagstrom of Enkoping, Sweden
87. Sarah Schmelzel of Pheonix, Ariz.
88. Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario
89. Jenny Shin of Seoul, Republic of Korea
90. Sarah Jane Smith of Sunshine Coast, Australia
91. Jennifer Song of Orlando
92. Angela Stanford of Saginaw, Texas
93. Lauren Stephenson of Lexington, S.C.
94. Jackie Stoelting of Vero Beach
95. Linnea Strom of Hovas, Sweden
96. Jasmine Suwannapura of Bangkok, Thailand
97. Elizabeth Szokol of Winnetka, Ill.
98. Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky.
99. Kelly Tan of Batu Pahat, Malaysia
100. Patty Tavatanakit of Bangkok, Thailand
101. Charlotte Thomas of Guildford, England
102. Lexi Thompson of Delray Beach
103. Maria Fernanda Torres of San Juan, Puerto Rico
104. Ayako Uehara of Naha, Japan
105. Lindsey Weaver of Celina, Texas
106. Karrie Webb of Ayr, Australia
107. Jing Yan of Shanghai, China
108. Angel Yin of Arcadia, Calif.