Popular event features LPGA champions with sports and entertainment celebrities in LPGA season opener
ORLANDO, Fla (Nov. 3, 2019) – John Smoltz, the baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and standout celebrity golfer, will defend his celebrity division title at the 2020 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions Presented by Insurance Office of America.
The eye-opening competition returns to Tranquilo Golf Course on January 16-19, 2020, at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando. To learn more about the tournament and its history, visit www.DiamondLpga.com.
The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions captured the golf world’s imagination in January 2019, during its inaugural year, with its unique format combining LPGA Tour winners with top-tier celebrities to play side-by-side in separate competitions. Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea claimed the 2019 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions professional title and is qualified to compete in the 2020 event.
The 2020 professional field is exclusive to LPGA players who win a 2018 and 2019 season, plus a roster of prominent sports and entertainment celebrities. Billed as one event, the tournament features two simultaneous, but distinct 72-hole competitions with the LPGA pros playing stroke play for a $1.2 million purse, and the celebrities competing in a modified Stableford format for $500,000.
The combination of LPGA winners with top sports and entertainment celebrities in the same pairings proved a Golf Channel and NBC TV ratings success, with the public and media attracted by the innovative approach.
“The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions is such a fun way to start our LPGA season,” stated LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “Our pros love playing with these celebrities and it’s a great way for fans to see world-class competition from so many different athletes. And it doesn’t hurt that Tranquilo is a spectacular venue.”
“This event is unlike any other golf tournament in the world and we are excited to bring it back even bigger and better for 2020,” said Mike Flaskey, Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Resorts. “You have entertainment from the celebrity stars who have a blast on the course, mixed with just about as good of golf as you’ll get with the LPGA champions. You can feel the energy all week long. It’s the place to be in Central Florida in January.”
Along with Ji as the defending champion, LPGA players Lexie Thompson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson and Inbee Park are among 34 professionals qualified for the field. Firm commitments will be announced closer to the tournament. Early celebrity commitments include former MLB All-Star pitcher Mark Mulder; fellow former MLB stars and World Series champions Kevin Millar and Tim Wakefield; and former top-ranked American tennis pro and captain of the U.S. Davis Cup Team, Mardy Fish.
The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions will air on Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday and on NBC on Saturday and Sunday.
Diamond Resorts formed a close relationship with the LPGA for several years as a sponsor of star Brittany Lincicome and by inviting players to compete in the former Diamond Resorts Invitational. Past celebrity fields have included Hall of Famers, All-Stars and superstars from all major sports, including Jerry Rice, Brian Urlacher, Roger Clemens, Marcus Allen, Terry Francona, Toby Keith, Lee Brice, Alfonso Ribeiro and Larry the Cable Guy.
Tranquilo Golf Course is unique to Central Florida for its varying elevation, abundant wildlife and protected wetlands. It was designed by Tom Fazio and built in 1992.