DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Symetra Tour will begin the 2019 “Road to LPGA Tour” in North Port, Fla., with the inaugural SKYiGOLF Championship hosted by Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club at Bobcat Trail from March 7-10.
A full field of competitors will battle for a purse of $250,000, matching the 2016 Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic in Greenwood, S.C. as the richest in Symetra Tour history. The SKYiGOLF Championship is also currently the highest prize money event for 2019 on the official qualifying tour of the LPGA.
“We are excited to welcome SKYiGOLF to the Symetra Tour family and are grateful that they sought out the Symetra Tour as one of their first significant industry partnerships,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “I know our members will be grateful to compete for the highest purse in Tour history in the first tournament of the year. This will definitely give some lucky players a major jump-start in the Volvik Race for the Card, not to mention the financial comfort that comes with such a significant payout.”
SKYiGOLF recently announced the three-year deal for the tournament at the World Golf Hall of Fame in conjunction with the company’s official launch. Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club at Bobcat Trail and the Golf Links of Charlotte Harbor are the first two clubs to join SKYiGOLF, an organization aimed at giving PGA Professionals and course operators the means to run their business more efficiently, while enhancing the game for all who play.
“We at SKYiGOLF are big supporters of women’s golf and are proud to work with the LPGA Tour in hosting the Symetra Tour’s SKYiGOLF Championship at Charlotte Harbor National,” said Rich Smith, PGA, the Founder and CEO of SKYiGOLF. “We want to get the season started in style, with a 72-hole event that will offer the largest purse of the season.”
The top-10 in the Volvik Race for the Card at the end of the season earn full LPGA Tour membership for 2020. From 1999-2002, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA handed out three cards, then from 2003-2007 that number increased to five before 10 were distributed starting in 2008. Since the inaugural year, a total of 147 players have graduated to the big stage.
Symetra Tour graduates over the years have included Mo Martin, Gerina Piller, Christina Kim and 2018 first-time LPGA Tour winner Nelly Korda, as well as World Golf Hall of Fame members Lorena Ochoa and Inbee Park. Other players that have spent time on the Symetra Tour include Brooke Henderson, Cheyenne Woods, Jaye Marie Green, Madelene Sagstrom and 2018 first-time LPGA Tour winner Annie Park.
“To start out the 2019 season with a bang as big as the SKYiGOLF Championship is really awesome,” said August Kim (St. Augustine, Florida), who finished the 2018 season at No. 30 in the Volvik Race for the Card and earned exemption into the inaugural Q-Series. “The large purse and sponsor support show the Tour continues to grow. I'm looking forward to the strong tone it will set right from the start of the season, especially since it's a couple hours from home for me.”