The Ladies European Tour has been dealt yet another crushing blow after it emerged the tour has lost the Vic Open, one of the largest tournaments on the already limited schedule, to the LPGA Tour.
Three months ago, it was announced that the men’s European Tour would be joining forces with the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, the ALPG and the LET for the revolutionary tournament, where both men and women compete on the same golf course for an equal amount of prize money.
The Vic Open even released a video alongside promotional material displaying the LET’s logo earlier this year, but now, incredibly, Golf Australia has decided to back out of the deal in favour of the LPGA.
The decision was made public on Wednesday morning, but murmurs among European players on social media surfaced on Monday night, with many expressing disappointment that their loyalty to the Vic Open has cruelly backfired.
— Meghan MacLaren (@meg_maclaren) November 19, 2018
Really sad to hear that @GolfAust has decided not to include the @LETgolf for the 2019 @VicOpenGolf. Myself & many other members of the LET have supported the event from the start. To be excluded the year that the event has reached over 1 million AUD is so disappointing. pic.twitter.com/DkTFBYxynB
— Beth Allen (@BethAllenGolf) November 20, 2018
Prize money appears to have remained the same at $1.5 million for both the men and women’s tournament, but with the LPGA now on board, the majority of the world’s best players will head to Australia in February.
The Vic Open will also tie in nicely with the LPGA Tour’s current Women’s Australian Open, with the two tournaments set to be played over a two week stretch: February 7-10 for the Vic Open, and February 14-17 for the Australian Open.
“The LPGA Tour has been a great boon for the national championship and we are absolutely delighted the Vic Open will now be part of its worldwide schedule,” said Stephen Pitt, the chief executive of Golf Australia.
“We’ve worked very hard with our sponsors and partners to attain the standards stipulated by the LPGA Tour when we first discussed this possibility and for a tournament that has become revered for its progressive thinking, we are excited to take it to the next level.”
As for the LET, the news will be received as yet another gut-wrenching blow for its players. In 2018, the Vic Open was the tour’s most lucrative event outside of the two major championships – the British Open and the Evian Championship. In August last year, Sally Watson told LG she quit the LET because it was almost impossible to make a living from it – with many players taking up second jobs.
Under new management, the LET were confident of a much stronger 2019 season compared to the threadbare 2018, but losing one of their biggest events will likely mean there are even tougher times ahead for the players, with a 2019 schedule yet to be announced.