The IOA Championship at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont is event number two on the Road to the LPGA. It’s the first of a three-week West Coast Swing – the first true swing out west since 2001. The Tour will also play in Mesa, Arizona and Windsor, California. The IOA Championship is the first of two events titled by Insurance Office of America. The second to last event of the year is the IOA Golf Classic in the Orlando area at Alaqua Country Club.
Here are five players to watch next weekend in Southern California.
Erynne Lee – The former UCLA All-American burst onto the scene last year with a final-round 65 at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon and became the first rookie to win the season opener since 2005 (Jin Young Pak). Lee went onto have a very strong season on Tour, finishing 17th on the final Volvik Race for the Card money list. Lee made eagle on the 16th hole to come from behind to win her debut. She posted a 68 in round two to finish at 11-under for the three days so she is clearly comfortable on the golf course and capable of having a strong showing. Lee made the cut at the season opener last week, but finished T46.
Hannah Green – Australian teenager Hannah Green – who finished T7 at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open this year – will make her Symetra Tour debut at the IOA Championship. She is expected to play a full schedule on the Symetra Tour this year. Green finished T8 at Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament, but then finished T67 – three shots outside of earning LPGA status at Final Stage. Last year, Green finished T20 at the Australian Open so her T7 is no fluke. In 2015, Green caught the attention of many when she finished 2nd (to Lydia Ko) at the New Zealand Women’s Open. She also advanced to the Round of 32 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in 2015.
Bronte Law – Erynne Lee isn’t the only former Bruin golfer to watch as Bronte Law will make her Symetra Tour debut at the IOA Championship. Law, who won the ANNIKA Award in 2016 as the nations top golfer, set the UCLA record with seven wins (broke Kay Cockerill’s mark). In 2016, she garnered three player of the year awards from PING/WGCA, Golfweek and the Pac 12 Conference. In the summer of 2016, Law posted a perfect 5-0 record for the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team. She also won the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship. Law finished T24 at Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn partial LPGA Tour status. Law has made the cut at both of the RICOH Women’s British Open’s that she has competed in. She was the low amateur in 2012 when she finished T33. She is very good friends with current LPGA Tour player Alison Lee.
Camilla Lennarth – The Swede turned professional in 2012 and has played on the LET since. She finished 9th on the Order of Merit in 2016, which is much improved from 35th finish in 2015. She won the Ladies Slovak Open in 2014 and has 11 career top 10’s on the LET. Lennarth has made eight starts on the LPGA in co-sanctioned events with her best finish coming in 2016 at the Australian Open (T24). Lennarth had a very difficult first round at Final Stage of Q-School (81) and wasn’t able to recover even with a 66 on day four. She missed the 72-hole cut and therefore only has Symetra Tour status.
Brittany Benvenuto – She won the last Cactus Tour event at Sun City Country Club for her first professional victory. Benvenuto, who finished T29 at Final Stage to earn LPGA status for the first time, is coming off her best season on the Symetra Tour. She finished 16th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with six top 10 finishes. She placed T37 at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon last year and third in 2015.