GLENDALE, Wis. — Serving as the penultimate leg in the 2018 Potawatomi Cup, the fourth annual PHC Classic at Brown Deer Park Golf Course from Aug. 10-12 features the largest field of the series with 156 players battling for a purse of $100,000.
Maia Schechter (Chapel Hill, N.C.) currently leads the race with 541.50 points, 500 of them coming from her victory at the Four Winds Invitational. Combined with a tied for 29th result in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the Island Resort Championship, the former University of North Carolina standout is setting the pace.
“To come out on top you just have to play good golf, and to play good golf you just have to be in the process,” said Schechter. “I feel like I don’t really add any extra pressure on myself during the Potawatomi Cup events, but I do seem to play well in them. I guess I just like the host golf courses.”
Close behind Schechter is Ruixin Liu (Dalian, China), who captured her first career professional win at the Island Resort Championship, as well as 500 points. She sits at the same total entering the third tournament of the Potawatomi Cup series.
“I didn’t really focus on this last year because I didn’t really know how it works,” said Liu, also ranked No. 7 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “This year, because I won at the Island Resort Championship and got 500 points, it feels nice to have some bonus. I would like to have another achievement on Tour this year.”
Third in the standings is Eun Jeong Seong (Yongin, Republic of Korea) with 286.50 points. In just her second career Symetra Tour start at the Four Winds Invitational, she finished tied for second to earn 245 points. Then, a tied for 29th place in Harris, Mich., landed the remaining 41.50 to reach her current mark.
Following the rookie is a group of three individuals tied for fourth with 245 points, including Lori Beth Adams (Burlington, N.C.), Min Seo Kwak (Seoul, Republic of Korea) and Louise Stahle (Lund, Sweden).
“As we start the second half of events in the Potawatomi Cup series, there is anticipation for a great sprint to the finish from all the competitors,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “With plenty of added incentives for the players, the battle should provide a miniature preview of what the Volvik Race for the Card final stretch will look like.”
The lone remaining tournament on the Symetra Tour schedule that is part of the Potawatomi Cup includes the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship next week in Battle Creek, Mich., from Aug. 17-19 at Battle Creek Country Club.
“Every tournament is so helpful and their support of the Symetra Tour is incredible,” Schechter said. “To have formed the Potawatomi Cup, on top of already having these four events, is huge for us. In order to gain more support and get bigger purses, I think the frontrunner is in all of what they do.”
Last year, Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand) captured the Potawatomi Cup thanks to a tied for second result at the Island Resort Championship, tied for fourth finish at the Four Winds Invitational and going solo second at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship. She edged out Erynne Lee (Silverdale, Washington), who came in a close second.
The inaugural Potawatomi Cup was won by Kwak in 2014, with Annie Park (Levittown, N.Y.) coming out the victor in 2015 and Laura Gonzalez Escallon (La Hulpe, Belgium) in 2016. Kwak is in the field for the PHC Classic, as she continues the quest of trying to become the first two-time Potawatomi Cup winner in Symetra Tour history.
FERRELL RETURNS TO HOME STATE
One of five players from the Badger State competing in the PHC Classic is fourth year professional Allyssa Ferrell (Edgerton, Wisconsin) and this week’s host venue Brown Deer Park Golf Course holds an extra special place in her heart.
“When I was 16 years old, I won the Brown Deer Woman’s Amateur and it was the biggest accomplishment of my career to that point,” said Ferrell, who is coming off a tied for 30th finish at the Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY. “I am very proud to be from Wisconsin and I love this state very much. I know I'll have the home crowd support.”
This will be the fourth time Ferrell tees it up in the only Wisconsin event on the road to the LPGA Tour calendar. She looks to build off last year’s tournament-best result of tied for 37th.
“I am expecting some extra fans to be walking along, cheering me on,” Ferrell said. “My 8-year-old cousin will probably make an appearance and she is one of my biggest fans. It will be a very special and emotional week for sure.”
Even though she is familiar with the course, Ferrell says it doesn’t necessarily give her an advantage. There is, however, an increased comfort level playing in her backyard.
Furthermore, leading up to the tournament and during competition, she has welcomed friends to the area with open arms.
“I am able to stay at home all week in my own bed, which is always nice,” said Ferrell. “I have an 8-month-old puppy Breslin, so it's special that I get to spend extra time with her. Also, Erica Popson was in Edgerton with me before coming to Milwaukee and Liz Nagel will spend the week at my house. It has become a ‘Milwaukee week tradition’ for us.”
With a season-best tied for 17th result at the Forsyth Classic, Ferrell is hoping to develop some momentum heading into the final eight events of the season. The former three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection for Michigan State University is currently No. 91 in the Volvik Race for the Card.
She begins play in the first round tomorrow at 1:57 p.m. CT off No. 10 and will be joined by Louise Ridderström (Stocksund, Sweden) and Pajaree Anannarukarn (Bangkok, Thailand).
“My season has been really slow to start, but I am hoping that this week will jump-start the rest of my fall so that I am able to end on a positive, high note,” Ferrell said. “I have learned not to have expectations because that's when disappointment creeps in. I am going to focus on enjoying the week in Wisconsin.”
QUIHUIS RETURNS FROM INJURY
The last time Krystal Quihuis (Tucson, Arizona) made a Symetra Tour start was the Forsyth Classic in mid-June when she finished tied for 50th before an injury halted her strong rookie campaign.
Warming up before the first round of the Island Resort Championship, the former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year for the University of Arizona felt a tweak. It proved to be a lot more than that, however.
“I pulled a muscle and it was hard for me to breath,” said Quihuis, who returns to competition at the PHC Classic following a six-week absence. “I went to see our physical therapist Alex [Herzlin] and he gave me a cream to put on it. I went back to the range and couldn’t even swing, so I had to withdraw.”
Once back home, Quihuis first visited her primary physician Dr. Tiu, who then referred her to sports medicine specialist Dr. Norris. From there, she eased her way back into tournament shape at ATI Physical Therapy.
“It was pretty much all of my right side, from the shoulder down to the middle of my back,” Quihuis said. “They told me not to do any weight training or golf swinging, just rest. Then last week they cleared me, so I have only been swinging a club since last Monday. It started as mostly putting and a little bit of chipping, here and there.”
Before the injury, which was categorized as a pulled oblique, Quihuis was No. 36 in the Volvik Race for the Card. Through her first eight career starts, she missed only one cut and captured four top-20 finishes.
Now back in the mix, the former All-Pac 12 selection sits at No. 65.
“I’m super excited and it was hard when you can’t do anything, so coming back out here feels like, I just have no words,” said Quihuis. “My goal is now to try and keep top-30 by the end of the year so I don’t have to go back to Stage II of Q-School. I’m just hoping to place really well in these last few tournaments that we have left.”
Quihuis gets back into the competitive mindset tomorrow. She’ll join Nuria Iturrios (Palma de Mallorca, Spain) and Stephanie Miller (Elgin, Illinois) in the 1:24 p.m. CT group off No. 10 tee.