SARASOTA, FLORIDA, April 19, 2017 - The Symetra Tour, the official qualifying Tour of the LPGA, returns to action after a week off with the sixth annual Sara Bay Classic at Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota. The fifth tournament of the 2017 season begins on Friday, April 21 and concludes on Sunday, April 23.
The 54-hole tournament will feature 144 players competing for a $110,000 purse. The winner will earn $16,500 and move towards the top of the early Volvik Race for the Card money list. The top 10 on the final money list will earn LPGA Tour membership for the 2018 season.
The field includes the top rising stars from the United States and 28 different countries around the globe. Eight of the top 10 on the current Volvik Race for the Card money list are in the field this week including No. 1 Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand), who has finished in second place in two of her three starts. The field is also highlighted by 29 LPGA Tour members including Julieta Granada, who has one career LPGA win (2006 ADT Championship) and 28 top 10 finishes.
There are ten players in the field from the state of Florida: Ginger Howard (Bradenton), Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne), Casey Kennedy (Venice), Cindy LaCrosse (Tampa), Christina Miller (Bradenton), Erica Popson (Davenport), Madison Pressel (Boca Raton), Kaitlyn Price (Jacksonville Beach), Ericka Schneider (Bradenton) and Carlie Yadloczky (Casselberry).
TAMPA’S LACROSSE FEELS A RETURN IS POSSIBLE WITH 30TH LOOMING
Six years have flown by since Cindy LaCrosse (Tampa, Fla.) sprinted through the Symetra Tour en route to the LPGA. She won three times and set the single-season earnings record in 2010, which stood until 2016.
“I changed my swing about a year ago and I’m working with Justin Sheehan out of Old Memorial in Tampa,” said LaCrosse, who is now focused on a return to the LPGA. “It has been a long time doing things that are uncomfortable in order to get in a better position with my golf swing.”
Beyond the mechanics, there is one obvious thing that has changed since 2010.
“I’m turning 30 on Friday and that’s probably the biggest difference,” said LaCrosse while laughing. “I know more about my swing and my game now. Before, I would just get up there (tee) and hit it. I would take lessons here and there, but athletically, I could get the ball to where I wanted it to go.”
“Now, I’m training to get rid of bad habits so I have to think a little bit harder,” continued LaCrosse. “I know a lot more of what I’m capable of and where my misses are so I can play a little smarter.”
In 2016, she finished towards the bottom of the LPGA money list and is back on the Symetra Tour for the first time since her record-setting year. LaCrosse had serious doubts over the last two seasons as to whether she’d ever be able to regain her form.
“If you asked me a year or two ago if I could play well on the LPGA again, I might not have said yes, but now that I feel a lot more comfortable I do feel like I can back out there. In the first couple of events, I have seen really good progress. I don’t know when, but I do believe that I’ll see a victory at some point. It’s nice to think back to 2010 and remember the accomplishments and the positives.”
“I definitely feel like I am on the right track.”
LaCrosse, who ranks 13th on the current Volvik Race for the Card money list, tees at 9:02 a.m. in the first round of the Sara Bay Classic.
• Paola Moreno’s host dad and caddy, Dan Mills, is the 2012 Sara Bay Country Club champion. Moreno finished T11 last year with Mills as her caddy in 2016.
• Eight different countries are represented in the current top 10 on the money list (Thailand, United Kingdom, Ecuador, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, United States and China).
• The five winners of the Sara Bay Classic have all gone onto play on the LPGA Tour at some point. They have combined to make 159 starts on the LPGA Tour with Christine Song (2013) leading the way with 61.