DAYTONA BEACH, Florida, Oct. 9, 2017 - The Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, crowned the final top 10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list during a ceremony at LPGA International following the conclusion of the Symetra Tour Championship.
The class is headlined by Symetra Tour Player of the Year, Benyapa Niphatsophon who posted 17 top 25 finishes in 20 starts this season. Finishing No. 2 on the money list is Hannah Green the Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year who collected three victories on Tour this season.
For the first time in Symetra Tour history three players cracked 100,000 in season earnings. Five players in Tour history have earned over 100k in a single season.
Players in the top 10 hail from seven different countries including: Thailand, Australia, France, Denmark, USA, Canada and China.
The final top 10 features five players that were playing their first full seasons on Tour (Hannah Green, Celine Boutier, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Lindsey Weaver, Katelyn Dambaugh).
Here is a look at the final top 10.
1. Benyapa Niphatsophon, Bangkok, Thailand, 20 years old, $124,492
After a tough 2016 on the LPGA Tour, Niphatsophon wasted no time establishing herself as a contender with a tie for second at the second event of the season (IOA Championship). She went onto finish second at the POC Med Golf Classic in early April and a tie for second at the Sara Bay Classic in late April. Niphatsophon had one of the great seasons in Tour history considering she didn’t have the benefit of a win. She finished in second five times and became the third player in Tour history to cross $100,000 in single-season earnings. She finished inside the top 25 in 16 of 20 starts. Niphatsophon first earn LPGA status by finishing T19 at Final Stage of 2015 LPGA Qualifying Tournament. Her nickname is “Gift”.
Niphatsophon on earning her tour card
“I’m very happy about having such a great season and I’m really excited for next year. I’m really looking forward to getting back on the LPGA tour and would like to thank my family and friends for being so supportive. I’d also like to thank the tour, the rules officials and all of the volunteers for everything they do.”
Played on the LPGA last season, earning her spot through Q School
One of five players in Tour history to crack $100,000 in single-season earnings
2. Hannah Green, Perth, Australia, 20 years old, $113,880
With three victories and 12 top 10 finishes, Australian and Symetra Tour rookie Hannah Green surpassed the $100,000 threshold for earnings. Her wins include the Sara Bay Classic, as well as two of the final four events of the Symetra Tour season (Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout and most recent, IOA Golf Classic). Because of the three wins, Green received a "Battlefield Promotion" to the LPGA Tour. Down the stretch, Green fired 10 straight rounds of even par or better, and sits in the top five in scoring average and greens in regulation. Following the Symetra Tour season, she will play against the men in the WA Open, an event on the PGA of Australia, before recharging for her first LPGA Tour event in January 2018.
Green on earning her tour card
"It's pretty cool to think I'll be on the LPGA next year. My time on the Symetra Tour has been a big learning experience about my golf game and about myself as a person. I'm glad got to spend this time on the Symetra Tour in order to get to the LPGA."
Finished second to Lydia Ko at the 2015 New Zealand Women’s Open
Two-time recipient of the Karrie Webb Scholarship, awarded to Aussies pursuing professional golf careers
3. Celine Boutier, Montrouge, France, Duke Univ., 23 years old, $112,044
Celine Boutier always rose to the occasion at the biggest events of the season. She won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic – a $200,000 purse – and the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge – a $210,000 purse. Boutier also finished solo second at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, one of her eight top 10 finishes this season. She was the model of consistency, making the cut in 18 of 19 starts. Boutier played college golf at Duke and won a national title in 2014. She had four wins and 13 top five finishes in college. Boutier is the first player from France to earn her card through the Symetra Tour since Perinne Delacour (2013).
Boutier on earning her tour card
“I’m super excited to finally start my career on the LPGA because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I just can’t wait to see how I can measure myself against the best in the world. It’s been a great year. Finishing in the top ten was my goal and I’m so excited that I achieved it. I feel like I learned a lot this year and the Symetra Tour was a great stepping stone to the LPGA.”
National player of the year 2014 at Duke
Former No. 1 ranked woman in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
4. Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Univ. of South Carolina, 22 years old, $93,115
In her rookie campaign on the Symetra Tour, Nanna Koerstz Madsen claimed three victories (Symetra Classic, Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY, Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic). At the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic, Koerstz Madsen shattered a Symetra Tour record by posting a 22-under-par (the previous 72-hole scoring mark of 19-under was set by Jennifer Song in 2010). Koerstz Madsen became the 12th player in Symetra Tour history, and fourth in the past four years, to earn a "Battlefield Promotion" to the LPGA Tour, playing in three events between late August and early September. She leads the Symetra Tour in scoring average and ranks in the top five in several other statistical categories, including greens in regulation.
Madsen on earning her tour card
“I am really happy that I got my card through the Symetra Tour. It was my goal from the beginning of the year, and with the challenges I had getting into LPGA tournaments in the beginning of the year, it just feels even better to have the card now. I am really excited to be playing LPGA tournaments every week and to compete against the best players in the world.”
Represented Denmark in the 2016 Olympics
Four professional wins include one win on the LET
5. Yu Liu, Beijing, China, Duke Univ., 21 years old, $86,110
Liu was as consistent from tee to green as any player on tour in 2017. She ended strong with 10 top 20 finishes in her last 11 events and one win at the Tullymore Classic. She became just the third player from China to ever win on the Symetra Tour. The other two are Yueer Cindy Feng (2014) and Hong Mei Yang (2004). Her successful season followed the hiring of notable swing instructor Chris Mayson. Liu struggled on tour in her 2015 debut year after winning ACC rookie of the year honors in 2014. She graduates after just three seasons on the Symetra Tour. She was honored with the Symetra Rising Star award for her improvement from 2016 when she only earned a bit over $25,000.
Liu on earning her tour card
“It’s been a childhood dream for me to be able to say I’m on the LPGA. It was my goal at the start of the year and to be able to do that is just a dream come true. Being able to compete against the best players in the world and to show where I’m at, it really means a lot.”
She helped Duke win the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAAs in 2014, her lone college season
Only third Chinese player to win a Symetra Tour event
6. Erynne Lee, Silverdale, Washington, UCLA, 24 years old, $80,780
A second-year professional on the Symetra Tour, Erynne Lee has greater than $128,000 in career earnings thanks to 11 career top 10 finishes (six of them coming in 2017), as well as two of her three career wins this year. That matches the number of Symetra Tour wins by Lorena Ochoa, Lee's golf role model. Lee ranks in the top 20 on the Symetra Tour in scoring, and in the top 10 in putts per green in regulation.
Lee on earning her tour card
“The fact that I was able to prove to myself that I could get the job done. After last year I was kind of questioning whether I wanted to continue playing golf. It was almost to the point that this was going to be my last year. This has really been a dream come true.”
Was on the winning U.S. Curtis Cup team in 2014
Her dad has been on the bag for all three of her Symetra Tour career wins
7. Lindsey Weaver, Bellefontaine, Ohio, Univ. of Arizona, 24 years old, $76,755
Weaver is one of five rookies to graduate from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA in 2017. Her lone victory this season came at the Guardian Championship. She recorded 11 top 10 finishes, including seven in her first 10 events. Weaver was 11 years old when she met her idol, Annika Sorenstam, while volunteering at the LPGA Safeway Classic tournament in Arizona. She, like Annika, has a career best scoring round of 59. Weaver played every event in 2017 and only missed one cut.
Weaver on earning her tour card
“This is something that’s been 22 years in the making. I started golf when I was 2 years old and this was always the dream. To have accomplished it in my rookie year I never would have thought it would happen, but here I am and it’s awesome and it’s everything that I hoped for.”
Big East Freshman of the Year
Graduates to the LPGA just a month after her boyfriend, Tom Lovelady, secured his PGA Tour card on the Web.com Tour
8. Anne-Catherine Tanguay, Quebec, Canada, Univ. of Oklahoma, 26 years old, $76,663
Tanguay started the year red hot with six straight top 15 finishes including a tie for second at the IOA Championship and a third-place finish at the Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club. She had her breakthrough moment in September when she won the Garden City Charity Classic. She played her college golf at Oklahoma and totaled 15 top 10 finishes and 26 top 20’s. She got engaged to her now-fiancé midway through the 2017 season.
Tanguay on earning her tour card
“It’s been my dream, and when you work your whole life to get there it’s such a big accomplishment. Words are hard to explain what I’m feeling, and I think it’s hitting me today. It’s just awesome, it’s such a good Tour, and the level and recognition all over the world. I’m really excited to start traveling the world next year.”
Made 10 LPGA starts last year playing on conditional status
Was All-Big 12 and honorable mention All-American at Oklahoma
9. Emma Talley, Princeton, Kentucky, Univ. of Alabama, 23 years old, $76,556
Talley capped off a consistent year with only two missed cuts in 2017. Her win at the Island Resort Championship in June was one of eight top 10 finishes for the Kentucky native, who is just two years removed from winning a national championship at Alabama. Talley finished 26th on the money list in 2016, her rookie year. She is one of only five women to win the NCAA (2015) and U.S. Women’s Amateur (2013) titles. She competed in all the LPGA majors except The Evian Championship in 2014, recording a best finish of T-17 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Talley on earning her tour card
“I’m very over the moon and to be able to do it with all my friends in the top 10, that was a really cool experience for everyone to stay in the top 10. I’m super, super excited and happy that everyone that I love is here.”
2015 NCAA Golf Individual Champion while playing at Alabama
2013 U.S. Amateur champ and played in all four majors in 2014, receiving low amateur honors at the Ricoh Women’s British Open
10. Katelyn Dambaugh, North Charleston, South Carolina, Univ. of South Carolina, 23 years old, $63,023
Dambaugh relied heavily on her putter en route to six top 10 finishes this season in only 12 events. She led all players with only 1.76 average putts per hole and was fourth in putting average. Dambaugh made her LPGA major debut as an amateur in this year’s ANA Inspiration. She joined the Symetra Tour in June as a three-time All-American who was Univ. of South Carolina’s all-time leader in career stroke average. Dambaugh, like her lefty idol, Phil Mickelson, does everything right-handed except swing a golf club.
Dambaugh on earning her tour card
“It means so much. Obviously missing the cut this week put me on the nervous side, but I just gave myself too many expectations coming in here. It seems like it was all part of God’s plan, so it didn’t matter if I made it or not.” Is it a dream come true? “It is, it is a dream come true. I’m excited to go to the Bahamas. I’ve never been there so that’s what I was looking forward to the most.”
SEC individual champion this year at South Carolina
Needed only 12 starts to earn enough money to graduate