Sports Editor

The world’s top pro female golfers will compete for $1.2 million in official prize money as the tournament begins the LPGA’s race to the 2019 CME Globe in a champions-only tournament being played locally next month.

In a new format for 2019, the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions Presented by Insurance Office of America is one of the most unique events on the LPGA Tour, bringing together some of the world’s top professional women golfers to play the Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club alongside a roster of world-class sports and entertainment celebrities.

Now an official LPGA event, the tournament will open the 2019 season and features one of the top LPGA fields in the world. Only winners from the past two LPGA seasons qualify to play, so the stakes high with $1.2 million in official prize money on the line. The LPGA pros will play 72 holes of stroke play with no cut, and be joined by 45 sports and entertainment celebrities competing for their own $500,000 purse.

Ten amateur golfers, who qualify during the event’s pro-am, will also have the opportunity to play alongside the stars during official tournament rounds.

The celebrities and amateurs will compete using a modified Stableford format that awards points for pars, birdies and eagles and subtracts them for bogeys and worse.

The LPGA Tour hasn’t had a champion’s tournament in more than a decade, but the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions brings it back. All four days of official play will be nationally televised, with Thursday and Friday on Golf Channel and Saturday and Sunday on NBC.

The event has been around since 2013, and the format has changed multiple times. In 2017, the tournament became a PGA TOUR Champions Challenge Season event with 27 PGA TOUR Champions players, three LPGA players and 48 other amateur celebrity players. Threesomes included one professional and two celebrities playing their own ball from the same tees for separate purses. Prior to that, the event was a celebrity-only invitational, with starts like tennis player Mardy Fish winning titles in 2016 and 2018. Mark Rypien, John Smoltz and Mark Mulder have also won the celebrity event.

The celebrity lineup has in the past also included Super Bowl MVPs Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen and Richard Dent, Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame pitchers Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine, ESPN college football expert and former NFL quarterback Danny Kanell, baseball legends Reggie Jackson, Roger Clemens and Gaylord Perry  and celebrity entertainers Larry The Cable Guy, Jake Owen and Colt Ford.

Over the years, the tournament has helped raise more than $3.1 million for Florida Hospital for Children.