SARASOTA, FLA. – The LPGA Legends Tour announced a new Florida venue today for its 2015 ISPS Handa Cup. Palm-Aire Country Club will host this year’s international team competition in Greater Sarasota/Bradenton.
The 10th annual ISPS Handa Cup will be staged Nov. 12-14, on Florida’s west coast for the first time. This year’s event marks the third return to the Sunshine State in Handa Cup history and will attract golf fans from Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
“We are thrilled to bring the most prestigious and longest-running tournament on the Legends Tour to the Sarasota area and in particular, to Palm-Aire Country Club,” said Jane Blalock, CEO of the Legends Tour. “The ISPS Handa Cup will showcase some of the greatest names in the history of women’s golf -- names that Sarasota golf fans will recognize – as well as legendary players competing on one of the area’s finest courses.”
The event will once again feature team competition between 12 U.S.-born LPGA Legends and 12 internationally born LPGA Legends. The sides will face off in two days of stroke-play competition.
Team USA, captained by Nancy Lopez and led by fellow Hall of Fame members Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel, won the 2014 event and regained the trophy at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss. The World Team, captained by Sally Little won its first-ever Handa Cup in 2013 at The Hermitage Golf Club in Nashville, Tenn.
“I love the Handa Cup,” said Lopez. “When you represent your country in a competition, it feels that much more special to win – and we beat a really good World Team last year.”
In addition to Lopez, Inkster and Daniel, Legends who have appeared in the ISPS Handa Cup for the American side include LPGA Hall of Fame members Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan and LPGA Tour standouts Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon. Florida residents Laurie Rinker, Nancy Scranton and Barb Mucha have also played on Team USA.
World Team Legends have included soon-to-be LPGA Hall of Fame member Laura Davies and her fellow Great Britain natives Alison Nicholas and Trish Johnson, Lorie Kane and Dawn-Coe Jones of Canada, as well as Australia’s Jan Stephenson, Liselotte Neumann and Helen Alfredsson of Sweden, and South Africa’s Sally Little.
Players for the 2015 Teams will be announced later this year, but Lopez will return as captain for the U.S. side. Sally Little also will return as captain of the World Team.
“We are pleased and honored to host this premier professional women’s golf event,” said Ed Kornberger, Palm-Aire Country Club Board President. “With the ISPS Handa Cup and the caliber of golfers it features – the greatest players from the history of the LPGA Tour -- we are building on the tradition of competitive golf we’ve established here at Palm-Aire. This is a tremendous opportunity for our club and its members, and we look forward to welcoming the LPGA Legends to Sarasota.”
The legendary Dick Wilson -- architect of 60 courses, including Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla., and the TPC Blue Monster at Doral in Miami -- designed Palm-Aire in the 1950s. Palm-Aire Country Club was originally named The Desoto Lakes Golf Club and Lodge. The club hosted many professional events over the years, with the LPGA’s Louise Suggs and the PGA’s Sam Snead winning tour titles at Palm-Aire in the 1960s.
The inaugural ISPS Handa Cup was played in 2006, at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. It moved to Portsmouth, N.H., in 2010, where it was staged at Wentworth By The Sea Country Club for two years. The event returned to Florida in 2012, where it was hosted by Reunion Resort in Orlando, before moving in 2013 to Nashville, Tenn., where the World Team won for the first time. Team USA is the defending champion this year after reclaiming the 2014 Cup in Mississippi.
ISPS (International Sports Promotion Society) and Dr. Haruhisa Handa, a Japanese businessman with a passion for golf and for supporting charitable initiatives “in the spirit of the game,” will serve as the title sponsor the event.
Kornberger and local tournament organizers at Palm-Aire also plan to choose a local charity partner. Details will be announced at a later date.