ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For a 42nd consecutive year, women’s professional golf finds its way to the greater Rochester area with the Symetra Tour making a stop at Brook-Lea Country Club for the fourth edition of the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic from July 19-22.
“Rochester’s willingness to support the Symetra Tour is a testament to their love of women’s golf,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer for the Symetra Tour. “From the volunteers to board members and staff, this stop never disappoints and is always spoken highly of by the players.”
Named after the late Danielle Downey, who passed away on January 30, 2014, following a car accident, this event was established as a way to honor her legacy.
Downey grew up in Spencerport and developed her game at Brook-Lea Country Club under golf professional Jon Hoecker. She went on to play collegiately at Auburn University, then competed on both the Symetra and LPGA Tour. Most recently, Downey was part of the Auburn women’s golf coaching staff.
“Her and I would talk about how we never wanted women’s golf to leave Rochester,” said Mike Vadala, the Tournament Chairman. “The fact that we can have this tournament in her name, that the Tour gave us this opportunity and we have been able to continue professional women’s golf for a 42nd year—which is the second longest running streak in the United States—is amazing.”
A 144-player field will compete in a 72-hole stroke play format for a purse of $150,000. After 36 holes, a cut will be made to the low 60 individuals and ties.
Defending champion Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Copenhagen, Denmark) is now on the LPGA after earning membership as a 2017 Symetra Tour graduate. In the final round last year, Koerstz Madsen fired a 6-under par 66 to cap a 22-under par overall weekend, smashing the 72-hole Symetra Tour scoring record.
Meanwhile, Clariss Guce (Artesia, California) won the second annual event in 2016 and is in the mix of competitors this week. Finally, Annie Park (Levittown, N.Y.) captured the inaugural event and is also now on the LPGA, having recently won the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer.
First and second round action begins at 7:30 a.m. ET on Thursday and Friday, respectively, with groups heading off No. 1 and No. 10 tees. Third and fourth round play will all be from No. 1 tee on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, starting at 7:30 a.m. ET, as well.
FULMORE EARNS DANIELLE DOWNEY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
To kick off Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic week, Brook-Lea Country Club hosted the 12th annual Future of Women’s Golf Pro-Am best-ball scramble on Monday afternoon, followed by the Danielle Downey Memorial Scholarship reception.
A group of 27 hand-picked current and recently graduated top local high school students participated in the festivities, alongside Symetra Tour professionals and amateur sponsors.
The recipient of the scholarship fund was Aquinas Institute of Rochester graduate Vanessa Fulmore. She was awarded a $2,500 scholarship by Erica Setzer, one of Downey’s three sisters. In addition, another $2,500 was donated to a charity of Fulmore’s choice.
“This honestly means the world to me,” said Fulmore. “Being able to help spread the game of golf to younger girls who love the game, and seeing what I’m doing is making a difference in their life and in the lives of so many, being that role model that they can look up to is amazing.”
Just like the tournament, the scholarship is set-up to honor Downey’s legacy and impact in the community.
One of three minority female golfers in Section V of the Rochester City School District last season (all of whom graduated last month), Fulmore started a “20/20” youth golf program for female students in grades three through six at School 20. It gives a new generation of female golfers a chance to learn the game. She selected some of the donation to go to her outreach, as well as the Elizabeth Wende Breast Care clinic.
“To be able to do this in her name and to be able to carry this on for high school girls and then give Vanessa the special, special night, it just means everything,” said Mike Vadala. “That is why you do this stuff, there is no other real reason.”
Furthermore, Setzer and family provided Fulmore with eight sets of golf clubs and many other essential items for the program to keep growing, from tees to balls. In the fall, Fulmore will begin attending the College of Saint Rose, where she will study special and elementary education, all while being a member of the women’s golf team.