FALMOUTH – The LPGA Legends Tour, which will be at the Falmouth Country Club on June 21-24 for the Hannaford Community Challenge, has had an interesting effect on recent LPGA Tour players.

The growth of the Legends Tour has reinvigorated their desire to be competitive again. The Legends will have nine tournaments this year. It started with one event 12 years ago. The Legends will expand to 12 tournaments next season. The goal is to have 15.

“Having nine tournaments makes the players want to keep their games in shape,” said Jane Blalock, CEO of the Legends Tour, who was at the tournament’s media day Wednesday at Falmouth CC.

“The players are comfortable competing again,” she said.

The Legends Tour has a starting age of 45. The Champions Tour, the men’s PGA Senior Tour, starts at age 50.

“Forty-five is about the age players stop competing on the LPGA Tour,” said Blalock.

“It’s a gradual transition. They don’t have to sit out and start up again. Players like Nancy Scranton and Val Skinner are back practicing.”

Scranton, who has won an LPGA major, and Skinner, with six LPGA Tour wins, are in the tournament.

The Hannaford Community Challenge, presented by Kraft Foods, is the second Legends Tour tournament of the season. The opening tournament, the Walgreens Charity Classic in Arizona in April, was won by Rosie Jones, a 13-time LPGA winner. Jones joined Blalock, a former LPGA standout, at Falmouth CC.

The tournament will include 40 players competing for $200,000 in prize money with a top prize of $30,000 over 36 holes on Saturday and Sunday. There will be a one-day pro-am on Thursday of tournament week and an LPGA Legends qualifying tournament on Wednesday for players not already exempt on the Legends Tour. Tickets are $10 a day and available at www.thelegendstour.com.

The tournament charities are the First Tee of Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maine. All the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the charities.

“We’re going to have a really strong field,” said Blalock, who grew up in Portsmouth, N.H., and won 27 tournaments on the LPGA Tour.

The field will include seven LPGA Hall of Famers — Amy Alcott, Pat Bradley, Donna Caponi, JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan and Hollis Stacy. Caponi will be playing in her first Legends tournament.

Blalock pointed out that Sherri Steinhauer, who is in the tournament, still plays on the LPGA Tour.

“We have a sufficient purse to draw players,” said Blalock.

There are other factors, Blalock said, that make a tournament inviting for the players.

“The course the tournament is being played on, the area and the camaraderie. The players are so excited about playing in the Portland area. The date is perfect. I think we’ll have good crowds,” she said.

Blalock feels anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people a day will attend on the weekend.

“We’re really pleased to have the Legends Tour at Falmouth,” said Dick Harris of Harris Golf, owner of Falmouth CC.

“It puts us on the national map a little bit. It’s a feather in our cap to have the tournament, but also a feather in the cap for Greater Portland. Hopefully the tournament will be here for many years.” 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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