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LPGA Tour Is Coming Back To Cincinnati

two rows of seated high school age girls on a golf course watch as Lexi Thompson signs autographs. She is handing a signed golf ball back to one of them. The s
Tana Weingartner
/
WVXU
Professional golfer Lexi Thompson signs autographs ahead of a clinic with Cincinnati middle school, high school and college students at Kenwood Country Club, the newly announced site of an LPGA tour stop.

Some of golf's biggest stars could play in Cincinnati next fall. The Queen City Championship is the newest stop on the LPGA tour.

It's a three-year deal. The inaugural event Sept. 5 -11, 2022, will feature a $1.75 million purse and be played at Kenwood Country Club.

"When you talk to the current players, the former players, everybody loves Ohio; everybody loves Cincinnati ... because the community loves sports and loves women's golf," says LPGA Tour Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan.

Marcoux Samaan, who is only about a month into her tenure as commissioner, says she doesn't yet know the tour's potential economic impact or anticipated attendance numbers. However, she says there's a big appetite for the sport at the moment.

"I think people are passionate about it, they want to be connected to it, they want to associate themselves with our brand, so I think we can drive the local businesses, the hotels, the restaurants, and that's a big part of our goal," she says. "I don't have the exact numbers at this point but I think that is certainly a goal."

One of the USA's top-ranked players, Lexi Thompson, was in Cincinnati for Tuesday's announcement and to give a clinic for local youth. The 11-time LPGA tour champion says she is excited about the game's future.

"We want to grow the game. We want to see kids get involved with the game at a young age because it's an amazing sport," she says, pointing to her involvement with the tour's youth development programs. "We want to grow the game and I think that's what the LPGA tour is doing well."

Excel Sports Management will put the tournament together. Executive Director Kevin Hopkins expects to draw some of the sport's top names.

"Our goal is to make this the best event on the LPGA tour," Hopkins says. "I think you can expect the best players in the world on a world class golf course. ... We have a great place on the schedule and I expect the top players in the world to be here."

The isn't the first time the tour has been in Cincinnati. The Golf Center at Kings Island hosted the LPGA Championship from 1978 to 1989, and the Kenwood Country Club hosted the U.S. Women's Open in 1963.

Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez also participated in the announcement and youth clinic. She says the tour has come a long way and she's excited to see it back in Cincinnati.

Kroger and Procter & Gamble are presenting sponsors. The Cincinnati-based companies say they intend to create women's leadership programs in conjunction with the event.