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Golf roundup: LPGA adds events in North Texas, Bahamas

The SportsXchange

--The LPGA Tour announced a second new tournament for its 2013 season, the North Texas LPGA Shootout, which will be played April 25-28 at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas.

It will be the first LPGA Tour event in the North Texas region in more than 20 years.

"I am extremely excited for the opportunity to play in my home state again," said Angela Stanford, a five-time winner on the LPGA Tour who is a native of Saginaw, Texas.

"North Texas is a community with a passionate golf fan base, and I know they will love having the Tour in town."

The North Texas LPGA Shootout will provide a unique opportunity for amateur golfers in the area to earn spots in the field through qualifying. Tournament exemptions will be awarded to the winners of a high school and college shootout played in advance of the event.

Tournament proceeds will benefit the Nexus Club, which primarily supports and raises funds for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf in North Texas.

Many of the LPGA's current players were junior golf stars in the Lone Star state, including Stacy Lewis, the 2012 player of the year; Stanford, Brittany Lang and Katie Futcher.

The $1.3 million North Texas LPGA Shootout will host a full field of 144 players playing 72 holes of stroke play over four days.

The tournament will be the LPGA Tour's first stop in Texas since the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship, which was played at the Houstonian Golf and Country Club in Richmond, Texas.

The last LPGA event played in North Texas was the 1991 U.S. Women's Open, won by Meg Mallon at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.

The LPGA Tour also has announced that Pure Silk will be the title sponsor of the Bahamas LPGA Classic, another new event for 2013, to be played May 23-26 at Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis in Paradise Island.

The 72-hole event will have a $1.3 million purse.

Pure Silk, which has sponsorship deals with Lewis, Natalie Gulbis and Brittany Lincicome, also signed on as an official marketing partner of the LPGA Tour.

--Taking a page from Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, among others, Rory McIlroy has formed a foundation to raise money for children in need around the world.

McIlroy, a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador who made a humanitarian visit to Haiti in 2011 following a devastating earthquake, said the The Rory Foundation would start its mission with what is being called the 6 Bags Project.

"When I was younger, my parents sacrificed everything to allow me to play the game I love," McIlroy said. "Having that support from my family gave me the opportunity to chase my dreams.

"But I know that every child is not so fortunate. My aim is that The Rory Foundation will support children's charities big and small, around the world, and that we try to give kids that helping hand."

In each of the first six tournaments McIlroy plays this season, his golf bag will carry the name and logo of a children's charity. During the tournament, the bag will be auctioned through www.roryfoundation.com, with all proceeds going to the featured charity.

McIlroy opens his season this week in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, and the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children will be the benefiting charity.

Rory will have the logo of the Boys & Girls Club of Tucson on his bag in his second tournament of the season at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship next month.

The Child Protection Team of the Palm Beaches will be the beneficiary during the Honda Classic, followed by the First Tee Miami-Dade Amateur Golf Association during the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The Chinquapin School, a college-preparatory school that serves low-income students, will be the beneficiary during the Shell Houston Open.

The charity McIlroy will represent during the Masters will be announced at a later date.

--Ryo Ishikawa of Japan will be playing in the Masters for the fifth consecutive year, having been given a special exemption for the third time.

Augusta National Golf Club announced that the 21-year-old Ishikawa and Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand have accepted special invitations, which are reserved for international players.

"Through our established qualifications, and invitations to select international players not otherwise qualified, we historically bring together a collection of the world's top players, and this year is no different," Masters chairman Billy Payne said.

"The Masters has long established a tradition of supporting the global game, and we were excited to extend invitations to Thaworn Wiratchant and Ryo Ishikawa, who we hope will provide added interest and enthusiasm for golf in Asia through their participation in the tournament."

Wiratchant, 46, is No. 68 in the World Golf Rankings, and he won the Asian Tour money title last year. He holds the Asian Tour record with 15 victories in his career after winning the Hero India Open last year.

Ishikawa dropped as low as No. 91 in the world late last year, but he moved back up to No. 75 after winning the Taiheiyo Masters for his 10th career title on the Japan Golf Tour.

This might be the last time Ishikawa needs a special exemption to the Masters because he has joined the PGA Tour for the first time. He will make his season debut this week at the Humana Challenge.

--Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland seems to be dropping out of consideration for the captaincy of the European team for the 2014 Ryder Cup matches at Gleneagles in Scotland.

The 44-year-old Clarke, once considered to be the favorite for the appointment, apparently wants to concentrate on playing the game after having an upswing in his performance late last year.

"As much as I would dearly love to be captain, this may not be my time," said Clarke, who captured the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George's. "Whenever I was initially mentioned, I wasn't playing very well. I played much better at the end of last year and have been thinking long and hard about it all over the Christmas break.

"I am exempt for another three years (for major events), and if I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy, I'd effectively be throwing two of those years away.

"I'm still wrestling with it. It's a tough one for me, but to be honest with you, I want to play golf."

If Clarke is out of the running, it could open the door for Paul McGinley of Ireland, although in recent weeks there has been speculation of a return performance by Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, who lead the European Team to victory in 2010 at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Tom Watson has been selected as captain of the United States side.

--Seung-yul Noh, a 21-year-old South Korean who is considered a rising star, has signed a management contract with International Sports Management.

He also recently signed a contract with Nike.

"ISM has a great track record of molding and developing the careers of young golfers and has already produced four major champions," Noh said. "I will be in illustrious company."

Noh has won three professional titles and was the 2010 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner. Noh captured the Korean Amateur and Korean Junior Amateur titles at the age of 14.

Ranked No. 95 in the World Golf Rankings, Noh is a full-time member of the PGA Tour.

"Seung-yul has already distinguished himself on and off the course since he burst on to the golfing scene as a teenager, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a huge talent and help his career move forward," said Chubby Chandler, managing director of ISM.

Among Chandler's clients are Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, and he once had Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
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