HARRIS, Mich. — Serving as the second leg in the 2018 Potawatomi Cup, the 8th annual Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club from June 22-24 features the largest purse of the series at $175,000.
“We’re very proud. We were the first one and the other [Potawatomi] tribes jumped on with us,” said Tony Mancilla, the General Manager for Island Resort & Casino. “As a group, I think we’re really solid. We love that Symetra [Tour] took us and made the Potawatomi Cup series. It’s an honor to us and we really appreciate it.”
Maia Schechter (Chapel Hill, N.C.) currently leads the race with 500 points thanks to her Four Winds Invitational win on June 10 in South Bend, Ind., at Blackthorn Golf Club.
Just behind Schechter tied for second at the 245-point threshold is Eun Jeong Seong (Yongin, Republic of Korea) and Louise Stahle (Lund, Sweden). Then it’s a group of three individuals tied for fourth with 115 points, including Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland), Nontaya Srisawang (Chiang Mai, Thailand) and Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Florida).
“Being able to compete for what the Potawatomi Cup offers is a really unique aspect of playing on the Symetra Tour,” said Schechter, also ranked No. 8 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “Obviously, the main goal is to focus on earning my LPGA Tour card, but having a good start in the series gives even more meaning to this tournament.”
Meanwhile, the remaining tournaments on the Symetra Tour schedule that are part of the Potawatomi Cup include the PHC Classic at Brown Deer Golf Course in Milwaukee, Wis., from Aug. 10-12 and the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship at Battle Creek Country Club in Battle Creek, Mich., from Aug. 17-19.
In addition to the normal purse payout for each event, a total of $40,000 in bonus money is available to players based on performance, including $6,000 to the winner of the Potawatomi Cup. First through fifth place in each of the four tournaments receives an added incentive on top of their share. The winner will take home an additional $3,000 and second place collects $2,500. Furthermore, third place earns $1,500, with amounts from there for the final two spots decreasing in increments of $500.
“We’re off to another great start with the series and having the purse increase for the Island Resort Championship this week adds further intrigue to the second Potawatomi Cup event,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “With the bonus money available, this system really allows players to not only pursue their dreams, but help with the expenses that come along with being a professional golfer.”
Last year, Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand) captured the Potawatomi Cup thanks to a tied for second result at the Island Resort Championship, tied for fourth finish at the Four Winds Invitational and going solo second at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship. She earned a total of $14,250 in bonus money, edging out Erynne Lee (Silverdale, Washington), who came in a close second.
The inaugural Potawatomi Cup was won by Min Seo Kwak (Seoul, Republic of Korea) in 2014, with Annie Park (Levittown, N.Y.) coming out the victor in 2015 and Laura Gonzalez Escallon (La Hulpe, Belgium) in 2016. Kwak is in the field for the Island Resort Championship, as she continues the quest of trying to become the first two-time Potawatomi Cup winner in Symetra Tour history.
NAGEL NEAR WHERE SHE SPENT MUCH OF CHILDHOOD
She may have been born and raised in the greater Lansing area, but Liz Nagel (DeWitt, Michigan) knows the Upper Peninsula of Michigan like the back of her hand.
“My whole childhood, we came up to Higgins Lake just south of the [Mackinac] Bridge, but still considered up north,” said Nagel, who is coming off a tied for 29th performance last week at the Forsyth Classic. “I’ve come up here since I was a kid, Mackinac Island and done all the stuff.”
Furthermore, when her grandma and grandpa retired, they built a cabin right on Lake Michigan in Naubinway, located just over 100 miles from Sweetgrass Golf Club. Since a young age, Nagel would visit with her family on vacations, spending many summers in the U.P. at the cabin.
“They bought the property when I was pretty young, it was just sand and all trees,” Nagel said. “We ended up clearing the trees out so we can see the lake. The cabin from the door to the lake is probably 50 yards, cleared a bunch of trees out and we used to set-up tents and camp.”
An alumna of Michigan State University, Nagel is one of three Spartans in the field at the 8th annual Island Resort Championship, joined by Allyssa Ferrell (Edgerton, Wisconsin) and Christine Meier (Rochester Hills, Michigan). In addition, she and Meier are the only Michigan natives competing in Harris this week.
With her roots running deep in the Great Lake State, Nagel is a sort of ambassador for this event when it comes to showcasing what Michigan, especially the U.P., has to offer.
“Everybody doesn’t know about Michigan, then they come up here and they love it,” said Nagel, a former three-time Big Ten Championship team member. “It’s really underrated. A lot of these girls are from the South and don’t know about it. Now, a ton of girls think Michigan is their favorite stop on the road. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like coming up here. It’s so crisp and nice, plus people are so welcoming.”
No matter where on the map she is going, or where she has been, one place will always have Nagel’s heart.
“It means a lot, being born and raised in Michigan,” Nagel said. “The more people come to Michigan, the more they want to keep coming. I’m pretty much the proudest Michigander you’ll meet, so it makes me feel really good being here.”
JACKSON PLAYING THROUGH INJURY
The way Janie Jackson (Huntsville, Alabama) has played this season making the cut in five of her six starts, you most likely wouldn’t be able to tell she is battling a major injury.
Dealing with a torn ligament in her left ankle, the University of Alabama alumna is waiting to have surgery until the offseason.
“Halfway through the round it goes numb and tingles on the side into my foot,” said Jackson. “It doesn’t feel very good, but it’s not unbearable pain like I can’t play. It’s just uncomfortable.”
It’s just the most recent in a string of medical problems for Jackson. Over the last three years she has had two hip labrum surgeries, one on each side. However, her left hip was the most recent, as she had that procedure in the fall of 2016.
While she certainly stays busy on the course, there is plenty for her to do off the course to stay healthy.
“When I’m at home, I do rehab a few times a week on my hips and on my ankle,” Jackson said. “I also see a chiropractor when I can. I’m so used to playing with the pain, but it really only starts bothering me when I’m walking. The actual swing itself doesn’t really bother me.”
Coming off a tied for 53rd result at the Forsyth Classic, Jackson has put together a gameplan for Sweetgrass Golf Club that could very well be a recipe for success as she builds off last week’s performance.
“If I can hit my driver and 3-wood in the fairway then I can shoot under par because my putting has been better,” Jackson said. “My irons have been good, I just haven’t been putting myself in a good position off the tee. I can manage a good round as long as I hit the ball good off the tee.”
Jackson will begin play in the 8th annual Island Resort Championship at 12:53 p.m. ET tomorrow off No. 10 tee. She’s paired with AJ Newell (Tampa, Florida) and sponsor exemption Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin).