The Ladies European Tour and the LPGA are to merge, it has been confirmed.
The long-mooted unification of the two organisations was finally agreed this evening when LET players voted in favour of what is being described as a “joint venture partnership” during the tour’s annual membership meeting in Spain.
The news comes on the same day that the LET announced a rebranding of its Order of Merit and a much-needed cash boost for its players.
The re-named the ‘Race to Costa del Sol’ will feature an additional bonus pool of €250,000, split between the top three finishers.
This means that whoever tops the ranking will receive an additional €125,000, with the second highest finisher receiving €75,000 and €50,000 for the third placed player following the season-long race.
The Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino, meanwhile, will double its prize fund in 2020, increasing from €300,000 to €600,000 ahead of the region’s expected confirmation as the host venue for the 2023 Solheim Cup.
Announcing the new partnership with the LPGA, LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti said: "Two teams, joining for one common purpose, will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own.
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“At its foundation, this joint venture is about creating opportunities for our members to pursue their passion, and their careers as professional athletes. In just the 60 days since we began working on this joint venture, we have already seen a dramatic impact on our LET Tour schedule – an impact that will be a positive result for virtually all of our LET members."
Mike Whan, the commissioner of the LPGA, who last week announced a record $75.1million prize fund for the circuit, added: "This is an exciting next step for the LPGA's mission to provide more opportunities for women in this game.
"Over the past TEN years, the LPGA has had tremendous success partnering with other golf stakeholders, including the USGA, PGA Tour, European Tour, R&A and PGA of America, to enhance opportunities for women worldwide. We are thrilled to deepen our relationship with the Ladies European Tour in an effort to create 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. I'm excited that this is something we will build together, with the LET."
The venture will be jointly managed by the LPGA and the LET, with fast-tracking an expanded LET schedule thought to be one their top immediate priorities.