Golf: Just For Men? Not Really!

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Women's golf categorically has evolved a set of major championships which parallels that in men's golf, but the women's system is younger and has been less stable than the men's. Many professional stroke play events for women are played over three rounds (54 holes), but the majors are played over four rounds (72 holes), which is the standard length of regular men's tournaments. This is the same distinction as for senior men's tournaments. The lowest score in relations to par recorded in an LPGA major championship was 19-under-par, by Dottie Pepper at the 1999 Kraft Nabisco Championship, Karen Stupples at the 2004 Women's British Open, and Cristie Kerr at the 2010 LPGA Championship. The lowest aggregate score for 72-holes is 267, which was achieved by Betsy King at the 1992 LPGA Championship.

The LPGA's list of majors has changed several times over the years, with the last change in 2001, after the du Maurier Classic, held in Canada, lost its primary sponsorship after that country passed severe restrictions on tobacco advertising. The tournament, now known as the Canadian Women's Open, is still a regular event on the LPGA tour, but with a somewhat lower profile. The LPGA replaced the du Maurier Classic on its list of majors with the Women's British Open Galvin Green Golf tournament. The LPGA currently recognizes four majors in the Tour Edge Golfing schedule. In the order in which they are played each year these are:

* Kraft Nabisco Championship
* LPGA Championship
* U.S. Women's Open
* Women's British Open

As in men's Galvin Green Golf, three of the majors are played in the United States and one is played in the United Kingdom. The U.S. and British Opens in the Tour Edge match their male equivalents, and the LPGA Championship is analogous to the PGA Championship, so by default the Kraft Nabisco Championship is the closest equivalent of The Masters. In any event, the Kraft Nabisco and Masters share several characteristicsboth are the first majors of their respective seasons; both are held at the same course every year; and both have a unique tradition surrounding the winner, namely the presentation of the green jacket at The Masters, and the jump into the 18th-hole pond at the Kraft Nabisco.

Unlike the men's equivalents, with the sole exception of the U.S. Women's Open, the women's majors have title sponsors (or in the case of the LPGA Championship, a presenting sponsor whose name appears after the tournament title).

Also unlike the men's majors, none of which fall under the direct jurisdiction of any professional golf tour, the LPGA organizes two of its four majors, namely the Kraft Nabisco and LPGA Championship. The U.S. Women's Open, like its men's counterpart, is operated by the United States Golf Association. The Women's British Open is operated by the Ladies' Golf Union, the governing body for women's golf in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

From 2006 through 2008, the winners of the four women's majors received automatic entry to the LPGA's season championship, the LPGA Tour Championship. Beginning in 2009, the Tour Championship extended entry to all players in the top 120 on the official LPGA Money List. The Champions Tour has no season-ending championship. The PGA Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs are a series of four events; while major winners are technically not guaranteed entry into even the first playoff event, the FedEx Cup point allocations for major winners are sufficiently high that the winner of one major is essentially assured of making the top 125 in points and qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs.


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Golf: Just For Men? Not Really!

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This article was published on 2010/10/15