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Women Major Golf Championships

Women's golf 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 strokeplay 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.

Current Position

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, was discontinued after that country passed severe restrictions on tobacco advertising. The LPGA replaced the du Maurier Classic on its list of majors with the Women's British Open. The LPGA currently recognizes four majors. In the order in which they are played each year these are:

As in men's 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 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. Unlike the men's equivalents, with the sole exception of the U.S. Women's Open, the women's majors have title sponsors.

History

Seven different events are classified as having been LPGA majors at some time. The number in each season has fluctuated between two and four. The first tournament which is now included in the LPGA's official list of major victories is the 1930 Western Open, although this is a retrospective designation as the LPGA was not founded until 1950.

LPGA major winners

The "Grand Slam"

No woman has completed a four-major Grand Slam, but Babe Zaharias won all three majors contested in 1950 and Sandra Haynie won both majors in 1974.

Six women have completed a "Career grand slam" by winning four different majors. There are variations in the set of four tournaments involved as the players played in different eras. The six are: Pat Bradley; Juli Inkster; Annika Sörenstam; Louise Suggs; Karrie Webb; and Mickey Wright.

Other Regular Tours

In men's golf, the four majors are agreed globally. All the principal tours acknowledge the status of the majors via their sponsorship of the Official World Golf Rankings, and the prize money is official on the three richest regular tours (the PGA, European, and Japanese tours). This is not the case in women's golf, but the significance of this is limited as the LPGA Tour is much more dominant in women's golf than the PGA Tour is in men's golf. For example the BBC has been known to use the LPGA definition of women's majors without qualifying it.

The Ladies European Tour does not sanction any of the LPGA majors which are played in the United States, and only has two events which it designates as majors on its schedule, namely the Women's British Open and the Evian Masters, which is played in France.

The LPGA of Japan Tour, which is the second richest women's golf tour, has its own set of three majors: the Japan Open, the JLPGA Championship and the JLPGA Tour Championship. However little notice is taken of these events outside Japan.

Futures Tour

Starting in 2006, the Futures Tour, the LPGA's developmental tour, has designated the Michelob Ultra Futures Charity Golf Classic, an event which has been held since 1985, as a major championship. It will become the Tour's only 72-hole event, and will carry a Tour record $100,000 purse. The idea of having a "major" on a developmental tour is a new one, driven by marketing, and it is unlikely to have much impact on the conventional definition of a women's major.



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