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Canada's CPKC Women's Open once again named LPGA Tour's tournament of year

Brooke Henderson Brooke Henderson - The Canadian Press

NAPLES, Fla. — The CPKC Women’s Open has won the LPGA Tour’s highest tournament honour for the second consecutive year.

The event, hosted Aug. 24-27 at Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, was named the back-to-back winner of tour's tournament of the Year at the LPGA's annual year-end tournament awards Wednesday night.

“We really have a secret sauce,” tournament director Ryan Paul told The Canadian Press at the CME Group Tour Championship, the final event of the LPGA Tour season. “It’s really an incredible golf tournament. You’ve got the best players in the world a rope-line away from you, but outside the ropes there are so many great things that you can see and do.”

The Canadian tournament also won for best sponsor activation and best volunteer appreciation at the ceremony hosted at Tiburon Golf Club.

The sponsor nod was a culmination of the tournament’s partner programming like the Brooke Brigade fan zone. Unique for this year — and specially recognized — was a junior clinic at the Musqueam Golf and Learning Centre for First Nations youth hosted by star-in-waiting Rose Zhang. Zhang became the first golfer in 72 years to win in her pro debut on the LPGA Tour when she captured the Mizuho Americas Open in June.

“When I saw it won I was pretty pumped up for them,” said Brooke Henderson, who won the tournament in 2018. “They treat the players so well and the fans are always amazing there. It’s such a great run event and it continues to grow every year. It’s cool to see that tournament get the recognition it deserves.”

The volunteer award stemmed from a new initiative where every player, caddie, and staff on site at Shaughnessy was given a poker chip to give to a volunteer who they recognized were going above-and-beyond their call of duty. The poker chip could be redeemed for prizes. There were more than 1,300 volunteers this year.

“A number like that you can see how important they are to the success of the event,” Paul said. “Without them we don’t have a golf tournament."

American Megan Khang won the 2023 CPKC Women’s Open in a dramatic playoff over former world No. 1 Jin Young Ko. It was her first LPGA Tour win.

“I’ve always loved going to Canada even before the win. The people there are so welcoming, the volunteers truly do it for the love of the game. I think they have the most volunteers on the LPGA Tour,” Khang said. “It speaks volumes to how much Canada embraces the event and it’s not surprising they’ve won it two years in a row.”

The 2024 LPGA Tour schedule was announced Thursday, with the CPKC Women’s Open set for July 25-28 at Earl Grey Golf Club in Calgary.

“(With) the schedule, not going to lie … I was a little worried when we were going to change our date to July. The Olympics always messes things up,” Paul said. “But I spent some time talking to the players this week and they love our event. They’re not going to miss it for the world. They're happy the schedule has a nice flow.”

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the CPKC Women’s Open. Paul said there are going to be a lot of announcements to come in celebration of the history of the tournament over the coming months. And he said a “three-peat” next year would be extra special as the event celebrates an important milestone.

The two-time tournament of the year will see its purse increased for 2024 to US$2.6 million, up from $2.5 million.

The total prize fund for the 2024 LPGA Tour season will be more than US$118 million, the highest ever in tour history and up a staggering 69 per cent from three years ago.

The tour will travel to 15 states and 10 countries and will feature three new events in 2024.

Announced earlier this week, the CME Group Tour Championship — the LPGA Tour’s season finale that features only the top 60 golfers on the yearlong Race to CME Globe — increased its purse from $7 million to $11 million with an impressive $4 million given to the winner. Only one event on the PGA Tour has a first-place prize of higher than $4 million.

“The money says that they're valued in what they do as the top 60 players in the world playing here,” said LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “And they should be compensated commensurate with that unbelievable world-class talent.”

The 2024 season will begin Jan. 18 with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Fla., where Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont. will be the defending champion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2023.