Palm Beach County all about sports as 2020 launches

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Staff report

Step aside Super Bowl LIV. Palm Beach County is debuting a sports line up this year that begins with an inaugural LPGA tournament and continues on to feature polo, equestrian show jumping, baseball and tennis.

So while Palm Beach County isn’t home to a NFL, NBA or NHL team, the reputation of not being a place for sports has been diminished, said Palm Beach County Sports Commission executive director George Linley.

Kicking off the 2020 sports line up is the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. The tournament will take place at Boca Rio Golf Club from Jan. 20-26. It will feature a 108-player field vying for a $2 million purse.

During a recent press conference hosted by the Palm Beach Sports Commission, hometown golfer Morgan Pressel said its the first opportunity she has had in her 15 year career to play golf in her own backyard of Boca.

The last time an LPGA tournament was held in Palm Beach County was 13 years ago.

She said she hopes to have a home field advantage on the course. She knows the greens are tough and on some holes players will be hoping to make a bogey.

“This club is a hidden gem,” Boca Rio club president Paul Shapiro said. “We are really excited to show this course off to the rest of the world. Most people in Boca don’t event know we are here.”

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said spectators can expect to see an Olympic event with 30 different countries represented.

The women’s golf tournament is one of three golf events the county will host this year. According to the sports commission, Palm Beach County is the only county in the country to host these three events in one calendar year. The other events in the “trifecta of golf” are the Honda Classic PGA Tour, which starts on Feb. 27 and the final event is the Boca Raton Championship, which has been elevated to the second tournament in the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, and will take place Oct. 26-Nov. 1 at the Old Course at Broken Sound.

The highlight of sports in the county will come in February in what is being billed as “The Perfect Week of Sports.”

The week begins with the Delray Beach Open, an ATP tournament, that takes place at the Delray Beach Tennis Stadium. It is the only tournament in the world  that features an ATP Tour event and legends from the ATP Champions Tour. It begins on Feb. 22.

For polo fans, the U.S. Polo Championship will take place on Feb. 23 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington. The world’s best teams will complete in the Gauntlet and the team that wins all three tournaments will be crowned champion and take home $1 million in prize money.

If you want to see a re-match of the World Series, head to the spring training site of the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. The “game 8” match up will take place on Feb. 24 at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Or if you want to see the home team in action, head to Rover Chevrolet Dean Stadium on Feb. 25 to see the St. Louis Cardinals and the Marlins play.

Then, it is back to Wellington for the Winter Equestrian Festival, the largest and longest running horse show, on Feb. 26. The event features the best riders of different classes from Olympians to juniors at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The perfect week is capped off with the Honda Classic PGA Tour where the best golfers head to Palm Beach Gardens to play.