GOLF $1 million playoffs planned for LPGA

It will be golf's first year-end postseason competition.
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (AP) -- The LPGA Tour will have its own version of the playoffs next year, culminating with players competing for $1 million in the final round of the season.
Commissioner Ty Votaw Tuesday unveiled the "LPGA Playoffs at The ADT," the first time a golf tour has had a year-end playoff system comparable to other sports.
The '06 season will be split into two parts, with players earning points toward making the 32-player field at the ADT Championship at Trump International, which previously served as a Tour Championship.
Fifteen players from each half of the season and two wild cards will advance to the LPGA Playoffs. The finalists will be playing for a first-place prize of $1 million, nearly double the richest payoff in women's golf.
Increased interest
Votaw expects the new format to boost fan interest and bolster the tour's schedule, increasing the importance of each event.
"You'll hear debate as to whether this is a good or bad idea," Votaw said. "We think that, ultimately, this will raise the profile, raise the bar for the LPGA, because it will bring a real exclamation point to our year in a dramatic way.
"For the first time, a group of players competing for a season-long championship has, at the end of that rainbow, a real bucket of gold."
Points will be awarded depending on the tournament.
UWinners of the four majors automatically qualify for the playoffs, while points will be awarded to the top 10.
ULimited-field events and certain full-field tournaments will automatically qualify, although no other points will be awarded, setting up an all-or-nothing conclusion at those events.
USelect full-field events will offer points through 10th place, although the winner won't get an automatic bid.
UThe players with the best performance in the Asian swing in the fall will qualify for the playoffs.
"The LPGA is thrilled to be the first in golf to have a playoff system that leads to a season finale championship," said Heather Daly-Donofrio, president of the LPGA executive committee. "This is a great fan-focused initiative that should ignite increased excitement at every Tour stop."
The announcement comes at a time when the PGA Tour is debating whether to revamp its schedule for the next television contract, from 2007-10. While the men's tour is still contemplating a half-dozen models, the predominant theme is to put drama into the end of the season, giving it a conclusive finale like other sports have.
Now, golf might already have one with the LPGA Tour's new model.
The LPGA also unveiled its new marketing initiative -- These Girls Rock -- designed to promote the players' great performances and personalities.

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