ALBANY, N.Y. — A familiar name to the Fuccillo Kia Classic field is back at Capital Hills Golf Course this week, as Colleen Cashman-McSween (Tamarac, Florida) prepares for her fourth consecutive appearance as a sponsor exemption in the Capital Region.
“I think I have learned over the last three years to really not think about it too much,” said Cashman-McSween, who just completed her fifth season at the helm of the University at Albany (UAlbany) women’s golf team. “The competitor in me wants to do well and win, but ultimately I think the goal is to just make the cut.”
A two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Coach of the Year, she led the Great Danes to the program’s second NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship appearance in the spring.
Prior to her appointment on Sept. 6, 2013, Cashman-McSween spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the University of Michigan women’s golf team. She oversaw the Wolverines recruiting process and monitored the team’s academic progress.
The Purdue University alumna is not only familiar with the greater Albany area, but also the host venue for the 13th Symetra Tour event of the season.
“I have played here probably five times in the last couple months, but more so recently in the last couple weeks,” Cashman-McSween said. “Over my five years of living here now, I have played this course a lot—been out with the team, playing in this tournament and also playing practice rounds. I feel really comfortable here.”
Before her time in Ann Arbor, the Sunshine State native coached 12 years at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., her high school alma mater. Cashman-McSween guided them to the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Girls Golf State Championships every year she was there, the longest streak in school history. On top of it all, they won a title in 2001.
Turn back the clock even further and you’ll find Cashman-McSween in the history books of the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour. She competed in greater than 100 professional tournaments during the days of when it was known as the LPGA Futures Tour, making the cut in nearly 80 percent of her starts. In total, Cashman-McSween posted nine top-10 finishes throughout her career, including a win at the 2003 Tampa Bay Next Generation FUTURES Golf Classic.
Even though she isn’t playing competitively as much as she did back then, the former two-time First Team All-Big Ten performer for the Boilermakers still has found the positives to get excited for another crack at the Fuccillo Kia Classic.
“This time frame works a whole lot better for me because I’m not rushing straight out of the season into tournament mode,” said Cashman-McSween. “I have had two solid months of playing and practicing, so a lot of confidence and been playing really well. Last year I didn’t hit it very solid, but this year it is a different feeling. I feel like I’m controlling it and hitting the right distances. Short game is really what it is going to come down to.”
Ultimately, being able to test her game against the future stars of the LPGA in a community so connected with women’s professional golf and where Cashman-McSween now calls home is as unique a story as it gets. She’ll begin play off No. 1 tee tomorrow at 7:41 a.m. ET with Katie Kempter (Albuquerque, New Mexico) and Hanule Sky Seo (Yeosu, Republic of Korea).
“I have played this event for a lot of years and I think it was in 2002 that I finished in third place,” Cashman-McSween said. “I knew a lot of people here before I moved because I played in this tournament and got to know them through it. I have a lot of friends that are going to come out, I get to represent the school and it’s just special.”
PKBGT ANNOUNCES NEW SYMETRA TOUR QUALIFIER
The Peggy Kirk Bell Girls Golf Tour (PKBGT) and Insurance Office of America (IOA) will conduct a junior qualification event for the Symetra Tour’s IOA Golf Classic, which is set to be contested from Sept. 28-30 in Longwood, Fla., at Alaqua Country Club.
A sponsor exemption into the tournament will be awarded to the winner of the qualifier. The field features 45 junior girls from the East Coast fighting for the spot over 36 holes at the IOA Golf Classic host course from Sept. 8-9.
“Giving opportunities to the next generation of elite golfers is an outstanding aspect of the Symetra Tour,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “It promotes a desire for these girls who play on the PKBGT to work on their game and set goals that extend beyond what they thought was possible.”
As a title sponsor of three Symetra Tour events in 2018, IOA continues to link generations of junior golfers by partnering with the PKBGT, a LPGA Foundation-approved tour dedicated to creating on-course opportunities for junior girls through girls-only golf tournaments.
“We are very excited to expand our sponsorships into girls junior golf with the PKBGT to help develop the next generation of American LPGA golfers,” said John Ritenour, the Chairman for IOA.
The sponsor exemption marks the second involvement with the PKBGT for IOA this year. In the spring, IOA was also the title sponsor for PKBGT’s most recent expansion into the Sunshine State—the Central Florida Regional Series, consisting of five one-day events aimed at bringing girls-only competitions to the developing junior golfer.
“We are extremely excited to have IOA on board with the PKBGT,” said Mike Parker, the PKBGT Director. “As a lead supporter of the women’s game through their three title partnerships with Symetra Tour events, the PKBGT’s new developmental series in Central Florida and now the sponsor exemption, IOA is paving the way for development in women’s golf.”
Players can pre-qualify for the September qualifier in several different ways:
- Top-30 players on the PKBGT Performance Index
- Two sponsor exemptions
- Top finishers in select junior partner events
- At-large participants (a pre-qualifier will be held to fill additional spots if necessary)
To learn more about the qualifier, visit pkbgt.org/tournaments_ioasymetra.php, and to learn more about IOA, visit www.ioausa.com/.