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LPGA to begin 2014 season in January

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The LPGA Tour will, for the first time in 13 years, begin its season in January when the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic kicks off the 2014 campaign on Paradise Island.

Starting the season in the eastern time zone will give fans an opportunity to watch the women tee off in real time, tour commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement on Wednesday. Last year, Jiyai Shin, Inbee Park, and Stacy Lewis had won the first three events of the year -- the Women’s Australian Open, LPGA Thailand, and the Singapore-based Women’s Champions, respectively -- before the tour moved into the fan-friendly TV-viewing arena with its fourth contest, the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix.

The 2014 season opener means the Bahamas tilt will move from late May to late January, ahead of the tour’s traditional February swing through the Asia-Pacific region. No doubt, tourney officials hope that January will bring better weather than what they faced in May, when Ilhee Lee won the inaugural LPGA Classic at Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis in a rain-shortened 36 holes.

In addition to the change of dates for the Bahamas tournament, a new U.S.-based event will likely take place next August near Grand Rapids, Mich., according to Golfweek.com’s Beth Ann Baldry. Baldry also reported that Miacomet Golf Club on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket may host an LPGA competition in September.

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