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Kingsmill Event to Switch to LPGA

March 3, 2002

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Professional golf will return to the Kingsmill Resort next year with the corporate backing of Anheuser-Busch _ only women will replace the men.

Anheuser-Busch said it has signed an agreement with the LPGA Tour to sponsor the Michelob Light Open at Kingsmill.

``We’re thrilled with it,″ LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said from Hawaii, where the LPGA Tour is starting its season.

Officials said the PGA Tour became too expensive for Anheuser-Busch. The purse for this year’s Michelob Championship at Kingsmill, where David Toms is the defending champion, will go up to $3.7 million, an increase of almost 300 percent since 1996.

The average purse on the LPGA Tour this year is about $1.2 million.

``It’s strictly a business decision for Anheuser-Busch,″ said Johnnie Bender, executive director of the Michelob Championship.

Curtis Strange, the two-time U.S. Open champion and Ryder Cup captain, is Kingsmill’s touring pro and said he was disappointed for the fans and the community that the PGA Tour is leaving Virginia after 23 years.

``But business is business, and there’s not anything you can do,″ Strange said. ``I think it’s important that we’ll continue to have a tournament.″

Dates and other details for the LPGA event at Kingsmill have not been decided.

Anheuser-Busch previously sponsored the Michelob Light Classic in St. Louis on the LPGA Tour the past six years.

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