Ladies European Tour is & # 039; feeder school & # 039; for American LPGA Tour

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How can the Ladies European Tour build on the success of the Solheim Cup?

The Ladies European Tour will remain a "feeder school" for the LPGA Tour, despite plans to close the financial gap between them, according to LET president Marta Figueras-Dotti.

This year's American LPGA has a prize fund of around £ 55 million compared to around £ 12 million on the LET.

Figueras-Dotti told BBC Sport: "We are slowly moving forward and the Solheim Cup victory has helped.

" The LPGA needs a strong LET; we can help each other and make both strong. "

Spaniard Figueras-Dotti won the Women & # 39; s British Open as an amateur in 1982 and then spent a year as a professional at the LET before participating in the LPGA Tour for 16 years until her retirement from the play in 2000.

The 61-year-old, speaking to the BBC as part of a special report on the health of the ladies game at the Mediterranean Ladies Open last month, added: "The LET never got involved occurred as the LPGA, we are like a feeder school. It is just like the European Tour and the PGA Tour.

"But they need golf for ladies. Many young women go to the US to study and stay there. They play on the Symetra Tour [the development tour of the LPGA] – 17% of the players on that tour are European However, Figueras-Dotti is ambitious for the LET. "We have great plans for next year," she said.

"I dream big and would like to see 40 events. If we reach 25-27 next year, that would be great.

"We want to create a better environment for European players so that they can earn a living."

The LET, which had fallen from organizing 28 events ten years ago to 15 last year, is back to 20 this year, half of which were majors or co-sanctioned with other tours. The LPGA has 32 events for 2019.

But while the minimum prize money per tournament for LPGA events is $ 1.3 million (£ 1 million); the highest for a LET event was $ 500,000 (£ 395,000)

The current inequality in prize money means that the leader of the LPGA money list, Ko Jin-young from South Korea, in 2019 was £ 2.1 million has earned, around 10 times more than its LET counterpart Carlota Ciganda, which has won £ 222,414.

The 100th top earner on the LET is Trish Johnson with £ 7,840. For comparison, Mariah Stackhouse, who is 100th on the LPGA Tour List, has won £ 103,677.

"I feel bad for the girls," said Ciganda, who won 45,000 euros (£ 39,000) for winning the Mediterranean Ladies Open near Barcelona.

"It's really hard to play well if you don't have a lot of tournaments. The LPGA is so strong, so it's hard to play here."

& # 39; We must build on Solheim Cup victory & # 39;

Europe beat the US on the final green of the Solheim Cup in September

The Scottish Catriona Matthew, who led the victorious Solheim Cup team at Gleneagles in September, has played both tours since 1995 and believes that "LET is healthy and will go from strength to strength "but must build on the" spectacle of the Solheim Cup and how it ended "like the World Cup ladies in football, cricket and netball.

She added: "It was a huge boost for women's golf and hopefully a springboard for more sponsors and more events next year."

It is a view that is reflected by the English Meghan MacLaren in England, although she understands why sponsors may be reluctant to participate. "" People talk about the Solheim Cup, the media are more interested. Look at women's football. Large companies are involved and it has opened up the market, "said the 25-year-old, who has won two LET events.

"The biggest difference is what you can get personally. I understand that sponsors have value [in the men’s game] because it is shown on television every week and we cannot offer that. But if we did, it would our value is rising.

"It is difficult for younger players to break through and make a career.

"There used to be more events. Look at the US, which is flourishing, but we are starting to head in the right direction. Things are going – it may be different this time next year."

MacLaren finished in 32th place in Spain and won £ 2,333. But the vast majority of the money will be spent on travel, accommodation and food, with many of the players opting to share houses for a week and cook for each other to keep costs down.

"We can see career earnings on a website, but that is a much higher number than went into my bank account.

" You spend on food and accommodation and flights, and then there is money for personal development.

"Many girls pull their own trolley, it would be nice to have a caddy."

You can hear more about this story on the BBC News Sportsday program from 6:30 PM BST on Tuesday 15 October.

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