LET players vote to partner with LPGA Tour

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LET players have vote in favour of a new joint venture with the LPGA Tour, which aims to increase both financial and playing opportunities for women in Europe

While Sei Young Kim was playing her way to victory at the Race to the CME Globe, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan was flying to Spain to hold talks about a merger with the Ladies European Tour. 

And on Tuesday, during the LET's Annual Membership Meeting in Spain, players voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new joint-venture with the LPGA. 

The purpose of the new partnership is to 'seek to fast track an expanded LET schedule', in addition to immediately offering LET members more playing opportunities on the LPGA tour, which this season had a total prize fund of about £55m - in comparison to the £12m on the Ladies European Tour.

At present, this year's LET schedule currently includes 20 official events in 13 different countries, with eight of those events in Europe, including two major championships, The Evian Championship and the AIG Women's British Open.

LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti said that the new venture "will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own."

"At its foundation, this joint venture is about creating opportunities for our members to pursue their passion, and their careers as professional athletes," she said. "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."

The partnership aims to immediately increase playing opportunities for women in Europe, with aims for the schedule growth to lead to both increased financial opportunities and an optional pathway to the LPGA for the tour's top performers.

"This is an exciting next step for the LPGA's mission to provide more opportunities for women in this game,"  said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. 

"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 news comes on the same day that the Ladies European Tour announced that the Order of Merit will be renamed the Race to Costa del Sol from 2020, and comes with a bonus prize fund of 250,000 euros. 

In addition, the tournament prize fund for the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana will double next year - from €300,000 to €600,000.

For the Ladies European Tour players, the feeling is one of excitement. 

“(Players) literally couldn’t believe how good everything Mike was telling us,” said Spain's Azahara Munoz of the partnership. “Pretty much there nothing to lose from us. Nothing.”

Meghan MacLaren, a two time LET winner, said there was 'much to be excited about'.