By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The LPGA and PGA of America said on Thursday they have joined forces to revamp one of the women's tour's major events in a move that will help give more exposure to women's golf.
Starting in 2015, the LPGA Championship, which is one of five majors on the women's tour, will be rebranded as the Women's PGA Championship and run by the PGA of America.
The change promises to bring a higher profile to the event, which already has agreements in place for network TV coverage by NBC for the final two rounds and is planned to rotate between elite courses near major U.S. cities.
The inaugural Women's PGA Championship will take place June 11-14 at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, and coincide with a women's leadership summit spearheaded by the tournament's title sponsor, KPMG.
"This is going to be a celebration of women's golf and women in business," PGA of America chief executive Pete Bevacqua said at a news conference held at NBC Studios in New York City.
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said the tournament will help to "change lives" for the professionals that will compete and the women it will impact in both the leadership summit and community initiative.
"The Championship will now reach even greater levels of global exposure, player opportunities, and community impact,” said Whan.
The LPGA Championship has been held since 1955 and in recent years was staged in Rochester, New York.
The PGA of America, an organization comprised of some 20,000 teaching professionals, stages the PGA Championship men's major and partners in the biennial Ryder Cup matches between the top U.S. and European golfers.
World number two Stacy Lewis, representing LPGA players, said holding the inaugural event in the New York City suburb on a course that had long hosted a regular PGA Tour event was exciting.
"Being close to New York, close to the city and media outlets, it's really a perfect place to start," Lewis said. "It's really cool for us. For us to be in a big market like this is a huge step."
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue)