(Reuters) – The Ladies European Tour (LET) has said it is joining forces with the elite U.S. LPGA Tour as Europe’s struggling women’s golf circuit looks to beef up its schedule and offer more prize-money and opportunities to its players.
The LET schedule has shrunk in recent years and in 2019 comprises only 20 official events, the majority played outside Europe in a range of destinations including Australia, South Africa, India and the Middle East.
While no specific details of how the partnership will play out have been released, a structure is also expected to be set in place for the top players on the LET Order of Merit to advance directly to the final stage of LPGA qualifying school.
LET players voted their support for the joint venture at the Tour’s annual membership meeting in Spain on Tuesday, the Tour said in a media release.
“Two teams, joining for one common purpose, will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own,” said LET board chair Marta Figueras-Dotti.
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said the partnership with the LET was aimed at creating “the strongest possible women’s tour in Europe”.
“We have experienced incredible growth in women’s golf in the U.S., and this is an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate and expand the game in Europe as well,” he said.
“I’m excited that this is something we will build together, with the LET.”
The move comes two months after Europe won a thrilling Solheim Cup against the United States in an event that attracted more than 90,000 spectators to Gleneagles, a record for a women’s golf event in Britain.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)