BEAUMONT, Calif. — Late Tuesday evening, the 144-player field for the 3rd annual IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa was finalized, with tournament play set for April 6-8 at the Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon.
Overall, this is the fourth year for the event at Morongo Golf Club, but third for Insurance Office of America (IOA) as the title sponsor.
Defending champion Daniela Darquea (Quito, Ecuador) is currently No. 133 on the LPGA Tour official money list after earning conditional status through the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in December, so a new winner will be crowned in 2018 as players compete for a purse of $100,000.
“We are eagerly anticipating the field of 144 players to arrive in Beaumont and compete in the 2018 IOA Championship," said John Tenuto, the Regional President for Insurance Office of America/IOA Insurance Services. “A lot of preparation has gone in to ensuring the 3rd edition of the IOA Championship goes to plan. We couldn't be happier with the partnership between IOA, Proactive Health Labs, Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, the Symetra Tour and our supporting carrier and broker partners.”
First and second round action will begin on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7, respectively, at 7:20 a.m. PT with groups going off No. 1 tee and No. 10 tee. The afternoon wave will start at 12:10 p.m. PT on both days. After 36 holes of play, the field will be cut to the low 60 players and ties.
Meanwhile, the final round is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, April 8 at 7:30 a.m. PT with all pairings off No. 1 tee. A trophy presentation will follow the conclusion of play and take place on No. 18 green.
“Last year, I only played 12 events, but got a good taste of what the Symetra Tour is like. This year, I'm thrilled to have my first event in Beaumont because it will be a smooth transition into the flow of things,” said Gabby Then (Rancho Cucamonga, California), a University of Southern California graduate who grew up just 39 miles from Morongo Golf Club. “For this brief moment in the year, I'll be able to have the best of both worlds—family and friends, as well as golf—all together for one week.”
Of all the competitors, 29 countries will be represented at the IOA Championship. In addition, 20 total states will have at least one representative, including 22 individuals from California. That list involves Then, as well as her sister Angella, who will make her Symetra Tour debut right down the road from her hometown.
“I think there is a lot to be proud of that this tournament is right where I grew up because it's part of my story,” said Then. “This golf course, this area (Southern California), it’s all part of what helped me become the golfer I am today. I'm excited because it showcases the beautiful weather that everyone talks about, and if you know where to go, the amazing food.”