HARRIS, Mich. — Starting in 2019, the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris, Mich. will serve as the official United States qualifier for The Evian Championship.
“We are truly honored to be distinguished in this way and welcome some of the best players in the world to our venue for a chance to make it into a LPGA major,” said Tony Mancilla, the General Manager for Island Resort Casino and Hotel. “Each year our team has worked to improve the event and this offers a sort of reward for the diligence and time they have invested in the Island Resort Championship to make it one of the best stops on the Symetra Tour.”
It will be the fourth straight year that a Symetra Tour event has provided players the opportunity to qualify for one of the five majors on the LPGA Tour schedule, with two spots up for grabs. The PHC Classic was the springboard in each of the last two seasons and in 2016 it was the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship.
The ninth annual Island Resort Championship will be contested from June 21-23, while The Evian Championship is set to follow a month later from July 25-28 in Evian-les-Bains, France.
In 2017, the field at the PHC Classic increased to 156 players to accommodate 12 additional LPGA Tour members vying for the final two spots in The Evian Championship. This will carryover to the Island Resort Championship, which will see a higher volume of competitors from it’s typical 144.
Along with adding to the field size, the tournament will also feature a purse of $200,000, the biggest in Island Resort Championship history.
“Connecting the Island Resort Championship to the highest stage of women’s professional golf is a testament to their devotion to growing the game and the Symetra Tour, further demonstrated by taking the prize money they award to another level,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “Sweetgrass Golf Club offers a pure test of one’s skills and will provide deserving competitors for The Evian Championship.”
Ally McDonald (Fulton, Mississippi) and Laura Gonzalez Escallon (La Hulpe, Belgium) finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship to qualify in 2016. Each went on to make the cut at The Evian Championship that year, with McDonald finishing tied for 30th at 1-under par and Gonzalez Escallon ending tied for 55th at 5-over par.
Last year, Brittany Marchand (Orangeville, Ontario) and Marion Ricordeau (Laon, France) were the top two finishers at the PHC Classic, although both failed to make the cut in The Evian Championship. This year, it was Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville, Virginia) and Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) who advanced.
“To have the opportunity to fight for a spot in a major was a great experience and I’m thankful that the Symetra Tour has established such a platform,” said Coughlin, who won the 2018 PHC Classic to punch her ticket as a LPGA Tour member. “I wouldn’t have played in The Evian Championship if it wasn’t for the qualifier, so I think it benefits all sides and gives a chance to those who continue to chase their dreams.”