DAVIDSON, N.C. — A plethora of players with North Carolina ties comprise the 144-player field for the Symetra Classic at River Run Country Club from May 17-19, including seven individuals from the Tar Heel State.
In total, 23 states are represented, as well as 31 different countries.
“It’s great that we are able to have events in areas of the country where several of our professionals are from,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “Throw in the amount of talent competing from other countries and the fields are as diverse as ever, with eyes from around the world able to keep up with happenings on Tour.”
Meanwhile, from a school standpoint, 11 players from five North Carolina institutions have made their way to the fifth stop on the 2018 Symetra Tour schedule. The University of North Carolina (UNC) pits the strongest representation with four individuals—Maia Schechter (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Katherine Perry (Cary, N.C.), Catherine O’Donnell (Ponte Vedra, Florida) and Leslie Cloots (Antwerp, Belgium).
“Not only does it remind me of my collegiate career, it just feels like home,” O’Donnell said. “Even being a couple hours away from Chapel Hill, you still see so many people in this area repping UNC flags and stickers. It’s also tremendous to have so many of my fellow Tar Heels competing alongside me this week.”
From the other half of perhaps the greatest rivalry in college sports, Sandy Choi (Seoul, Republic of Korea) is the lone former Duke University standout at the Symetra Classic. Even though the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are enemies in every sense, with mere miles separating the two campuses, there’s nothing but respect this week at River Run Country Club.
“I’m a huge basketball fan and that’s when the rivalry gets sparked,” said Choi. “When the Symetra Tour schedule came out and I saw that we were playing in North Carolina, the first thing I checked was the distance from the golf course to Duke. It’s like my second home. I was fortunate to be part of such a prestigious university and amazing golf program, both of which helped me develop into the player I am today.”
Another school having one player in the field is the University of North Carolina Wilmington, with Lori Beth Adams (Burlington, N.C.), who also happens to be a North Carolina native.
Furthermore, North Carolina State University will see Augusta James (Bath, Ontario) and
Ana Menendez (Mexico City, Mexico) don the Red and White in Davidson. However, former three-time All-ACC selection for the Wolfpack and the current No. 9 in the Volvik Race for the Card, Brittany Marchand (Mississauga, Ontario), is with the LPGA Tour this week for the Kingsmill Championship presented by Geico.
Last but not least is Wake Forest University, with Natalie Sheary (New Britain, Connecticut), Nannette Hill (Pelham Manor, N.Y.) and Sierra Sims (Tampa, Florida) competing as the pride of Demon Deacons nation.
“Every single girl that I played with all four years, played for some time as a pro,” Sheary said. “You didn’t have to ask us to practice extra, or to practice on the weekends. We all had our future in sight, so we all had a bunch of goals that we wanted to accomplish. It was always a grind within our own team.”
SILVERS SPENDS DAY IN SOUTH BEND
Entering its seventh year, the Four Winds Invitational held its annual media day on Wednesday for the event at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Ind., from June 8-10.
It may have been in the middle of Symetra Classic week, but even though Carleigh Silvers (Martinsville, Indiana) had to leave site, it didn’t take her away from preparation. With stormy weather and a bleak forecast at River Run Country Club, Silvers was more than excited to visit her home state, speak to the media and participate in the Pro-Am.
“I really like this course. They put a tent behind No. 18 green, a lot of people come to it,” said Silvers, currently No. 15 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “Even thought it’s not super close to where I’m from, it’s still really fun being back in the home state, representing the Symetra Tour.”
Last year, Silvers tied for 27th at the Four Winds Invitational with an overall score of 2-over par. In just a few weeks, she will look to improve on that mark and continue her consistent play so far this season.
In addition to participating in the Pro-Am today, Silvers met one of the sponsor exemptions for the tournament, Cailey Rooker (St. Joseph, Michigan). A junior at St. Joseph High School, Rooker is ecstatic to have earned a spot in the field.
“It’s an awesome experience and I’ll learn a lot from the [pros], how they play around the course,” Rooker said. “It’s a really hard course, but great to play on. Mostly just learning and being in this competition at a longer yardage will give me the opportunity to push myself further than normal high school tournaments.”
On Sunday after Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Florida) captured her 8th Symetra Tour win at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic, it was published that she is now has the most Symetra Tour wins all-time. That was in reference to the most all-time wins since the Tour started handing out LPGA Tour memberships in 1999.
The all-time wins leader in Symetra Tour history is Tammie Green (Somerset, Ohio), who captured 11 career victories from 1985-1986.
More information about Symetra Tour records can be found at http://www.symetratour.com/statistics/all-time-scoring-records.