W.B. Mason Championship
Thorny Lea Golf Club
August 12, 2015
Wednesday News and Notes
BROCKTON, Mass., August 12, 2015 - The Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, begins first-round play of the W.B. Mason Championship at Thorny Lea Golf Club on Friday, August 14 at 7:30 a.m. The event marks the first time the Symetra Tour has played in the state of Massachusetts since 1993 (Lady Michelob FUTURES Charity Golf Classic at Shaker Farms Country Club in Westfield).
The W.B. Mason Championship is the 17th event of the season as players jockey for position on the Volvik Race for the Card money list. The top up-and-coming professionals, two local amateurs and the winner of the WGAM Amateur Championship will compete for a $110,000 total tournament purse. The winner will earn $16,500 and take a significant step up the Volvik Race for the Card money list. The top 10 on the year-end money list earn LPGA Tour membership for 2016.
The W.B. Mason Championship is offering complimentary grounds passes on Friday and Saturday courtesy of Champion Lincoln and Evans Machines. Sunday grounds tickets are $10 and the proceeds go towards the Brockton Boys & Girls Club, the Brockton YMCA and the Brockton High School Athletic Department. Complimentary parking is available at the Brockton High School west entrance (700 Belmont Street) with shuttle service to the main gate at Thorny Lea Golf Club.
EXPERIENCE FOR POWERS AND DAUGHTER OF FORMER BU COACH: Nobody on the Symetra Tour has played more practice rounds at Thorny Lea than Caroline Powers (Bowling Green, Ohio). She played last Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday even before tournament week started.
“It’s a good course and I think it is going to be a great week,” said Powers, the daughter of former Boston Terriers hockey coach Francis “Buddy” Powers. “Yesterday it firmed up so I think the greens will be rolling faster and that will make it a great championship.”
Powers thinks two unknown factors will go a long way to determining how the course plays.
“It is going depend a lot on how hard the wind is blowing and how much firmer the fairways get,” said Powers. “If the fairways are soft you can’t get in much trouble off the tee, but if they are firm you can roll into some places that make it tough to make pars and even more difficult to birdie.”
Powers, a lifelong Red Sox fan, has spent a lot of time in the Boston area. Her father played hockey at Boston University from 1972-1975 and was an assistant coach from 2009 until he retired in 2014. He is now a scout for the Dallas Stars.
NO. 10 ON MONEY LIST PLANS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LENGTH: Only the top ten players on the Volvik Race for the Card money list earn LPGA Tour membership for 2016. Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Sherbrooke, Canada) is currently tenth on the money list.
She has the second most top 10 finishes (seven) on Tour, but is lacking a first or second place result.
“I know I still need a win or a second place finish, that would really lock up my card,” said Leblanc. “I know South Dakota is going to be a big one, I have my eye on that one.”
Leblanc also has her eye on the W.B. Mason Championship because the course is only playing 6,326 yards with no par-5 over 500 yards.
“I really worked hard on my shots 100 yards and in during the off week,” said Leblanc, who leads the Tour in driving distance at 279.261 yards on average. “The courses we play out here are not that long so I usually have a lot of wedges in and I want to get it inside 10 feet from that distance.”
Leblanc played in 32 events on the LPGA Tour from 2012 through 2014. She desparately wants to return.
“Playing on the LPGA before makes you appreciate the opportunity you had before,” said Leblanc. “This (Symetra Tour) is a great Tour too and it is an opportunity to still make a career out of it, but definitely the goal is to play on the big Tour.”
FORMER CURTIS CUP MEMBER GETTING COMFORTABLE AS PRO: Life was a whirlwind for Ashlan Ramsey (Greenville, S.C.) last year after leaving Clemson following her freshman year to turn professional at just 18-years-old. She didn’t play well at Stage I of LPGA Qualifying Tournament and then suffered a back injury that forced her to put the clubs away from November through January of 2015.
“I was so stressed after playing poorly at Q-School last year because I knew I wouldn’t have great status this year,” Ramsey admitted. “So instead of just going straight into next year, the injury made me stop and take a breath after all I had been through after leaving Clemson and all that.”
Ramsey was the top ranked amateur in the world according to Golfweek in August of 2013. She won twice as a freshman at Clemson and had four additional top 10 finishes. The now 19-year-old had high expectations coming into year one as a professional, but only got into four events. This year, she has played in three events and is in the field for the W.B. Mason Championship.
“Last year, I felt like I never stopped and now I feel a lot more comfortable and hopefully I get into the rest of the events,” said Ramsey, who has finished in the top 25 in all three starts this year. “The more time you spend out here the more comfortable you get.”
Ramsey had her best result at the Tullymore Classic when she finished in a tie for 11th.
After a practice round at Thorny Lea on Tuesday, Ramsey knows that managing the greens will be key.
“The greens are tricky with all the undulation, but they are at a really good speed so it is manageable if you hit the ball in the right place,” said Ramsey. “You have to hit your approach shot on the correct level of the green in order to have a good chance at birdie.”
Golf wasn’t the first sport she picked up. It was actually tennis. Very quickly, she noticed her older sister, Taylor, started winning golf tournaments so she switched to golf. Taylor is now a senior on the Clemson women’s golf team and plans to work in golf after graduating. She did an internship with Loudmouth Golf last year.
Ashlan hopes that leaving early and starting her professional career is a decision that she can reap the benefits of one day.
“I did some online school in high school because I have always wanted to get ahead,” said Ramsey, who bypassed stage one of LPGA Qualifying Tournament and will play Stage II in the third week of October. “The more experience you get as a professional, the quicker you can advance to where you want to be.”
FORMER BRUINS GREAT ANDY BRICKLEY PLAYS IN PRO-AM: Former Boston Bruins great and current NESN broadcaster Andy Brickley played in the W.B. Mason Championship pro-am on Wednesday at Cohasset Golf Club. He played with Symetra Tour professional Haley Italia.
“The great attitude she (Haley) had playing with three guys like us was awesome,” said Brickley. “She is a great player, her bad shots are my best shots.”
Brickley actually played in a Symetra Tour pro-am, when it was known as the FUTURES Tour, years ago when he was playing with the New Jersey Devils.
Brickley played in his fair share of minor league games and can appreciate the grind that Haley and her fellow Symetra Tour professionals are living.
“I know what it is like to grind for a living to get to the next level,” said Brickley. “There are certain things you have to do whether you like it or not to make it to the highest level.”