LPGA to hold exhibition in Rio

Updated: April 30, 2010, 2:37 PM ET
Associated Press

MORELIA, Mexico -- The LPGA is returning to Rio de Janeiro next month to play a two-day exhibition event that the women's golf tour hopes to make a full-fledged tournament next season.

The LPGA is staging the HSBC Brasil Cup 2010 on May 29-30 at the Itanhanga Golf Club, LPGA spokesman David Higdon told The Associated Press.

"This is the next step in our plan to turn this into a full-fledged tournament in Brazil," he said. "Brazil is a high priority for us, particularly with the 2016 Olympics in Rio."

The LPGA was expected to officially announce details of the tournament later Friday.

The event was won last year by Catriona Matthew, who will return.

The Brazilian city is looking to host more professional events as preparation for the 2016 Rio Games, when golf will return to the Olympic program. Brazil will also hold soccer's World Cup in 2014.

The LPGA event will offer $700,000 in prize money, up from $500,000 last year. Although the event is sanctioned by the LPGA, the winnings will not be included on the official money list.

Higdon said the 27-player field would be drawn primarily from the top Latin American players, but he left open the possibility that some of the LPGA's top players might be tempted to play. The top-ranked Latin American player is No. 71 Angela Park of Brazil.

Matthew won the event last season when she was four months pregnant and went on to win the Women's British Open, her first career major.

"I think I will find the course a little less tiring this year," Matthew said. "It is fantastic for the LPGA tour to be returning to Brazil, especially with the 2016 Olympics in mind."

The LPGA, which has struggled in recent years, has 25 official events this season and is pushing for expansion under new commissioner Michael Whan.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press