DECATUR, Ill. — For a 34th consecutive year, the Symetra Tour takes the road to the LPGA through the Land of Lincoln for The Forsyth Classic presented by the Decatur Park District from June 15-17 at Hickory Point Golf Course.
“It’s unprecedented to have an event with such longevity and support as The Forsyth Classic,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “As a staple to our calendar, it speaks to the outgoing nature of the community and their excitement to grow women’s professional golf through the next generation of LPGA Tour stars.”
Defending champion Chorphaka Jaengkit (Bangkok, Thailand) is in the 144-player field this week and will look to become the third two-time winner of the event. She would join Tammie Green (1985, 1986) and Nicole Jeray (1998, 2000) with a victory.
“This tournament means a lot to me as I gained more confidence after I won,” said Jaengkit, who used a 12-under par overall performance last year to win. “I really want to defend my title. I know that it is not easy, but I will try and hope it works out great like last year.”
Other recent champions competing include 2014 winner Madison Pressel (Boca Raton, Florida) and 2016 medalist Clariss Guce (Artesia, California). Like Jaengkit, both players have the opportunity to add their name to the short list of individuals who have won this tournament more than once.
“I absolutely love playing in Decatur, my host family is great and the hospitality is incredible,” said Pressel, who won with a score of 6-under par in 2014. “I have such great memories here and the golf course sets up really well for me. I’ve been improving each week with every aspect of my game and feel great going into this week.”
With a purse size of $130,000, players will compete in a 54-hole stroke play format. After 36 holes, a cut will be made to the low 60 individuals and ties.
Play will begin at 7:30 a.m. CT for all three rounds. In the first and second round on Friday and Saturday, respectively, competitors will go off No. 1 and No. 10 tees. Meanwhile, for the final round on Sunday, all pairings will start off No. 1.
MILLER WELCOMES CHALLENGE IN FAMILIAR TERRITORY
She’s not only a local talent competing in the Forsyth Classic this week at Hickory Point Golf Course, but Stephanie Miller (Elgin, Illinois) is also a University of Illinois alumna, so her roots run deep in the Prairie State.
Miller attended Adlai E. Stevenson High School, where she advanced to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Girls Golf AA State Championship her final three years, winning the individual title as a sophomore (2010-11) and senior (2012-13). The host course each time? Hickory Point.
So, her knowledge of the venue for the eighth tournament on the 2018 Symetra Tour schedule is slightly above her fellow competitors.
“It just brings back good memories,” said Miller, who also has one collegiate win on the resume at the 2013 Diane Thomason Invitational. “I obviously am hoping for the best and expecting good things, but I can’t get my expectations too high because I haven’t been back there in five years. I know the course and I’ve had a good track record there.”
Even so, there will be plenty of new aspects as she prepares to play the course now as a professional.
“It’ll be different to see the course play longer too because we didn’t play it that long,” Miller said. “Instead of 5,800 yards, we’re playing it 6,800 yards. An extra thousand yards makes a difference, you know. It could be setting up a lot different from what I remember.”
After missing the cut in her last five events, Miller is looking to right the ship by getting back to a place she knows and feels comfortable at. Her gameplan going in focuses on that sense of familiarity.
“Stay patient and it has just been a grind,” said Miller. “Being back in the Midwest is really nice because I know the grass better. Especially at a course that I’ve had good vibes at. Need to wait for my time to come.”