ALBANY, N.Y. — The final tournament in the three-week July stretch for the Symetra Tour is the second straight event in the Empire State as the Capital Hills of Albany hosts the 34th annual Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY from July 27-29.
A 144-player field is set to converge on the capital of New York and compete for a purse of $125,000 in a 54-hole stroke play format. After 36 holes, a cut will be made to the low 60 individuals and ties.
“Continuing the tradition of women’s professional golf in the greater Albany area has been not only a priority for the Symetra Tour, but for the community as a whole, as evident by their immense support,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer for the Symetra Tour. “Our players greatly look forward to this stop every year on Tour. Combined with the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic, golf is alive and well in upstate New York.”
Defending champion Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Copenhagen, Denmark) is not among the competitors this week, as she was a 2017 Symetra Tour graduate. Last year, this tournament was the second of her three wins on the season.
Past winners include the likes of Dottie Pepper and the event’s only two-time victor Marilyn Lovander, as well as Heather Daly-Donofrio, the current LPGA Tour Chief Communications and Operations Officer.
“No tournament can have a long and rich history without the support of its community and that is exactly what the Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY has in Albany,” said Daly-Donofrio, who won in 1997. “I remember my win there well, not because of the check I made, but because of the people I met. I remember the staff at the course being so warm and hospitable.”
From 1984-1998, the event was contested at Town of Colonie Golf Course in Schenectady before a one-year hiatus. Then it spent two years each at Western Turnpike Golf Course and Orchard Creek Golf Club, before settling in at Capital Hills of Albany Golf Course for good in 2004.
No matter where the Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY has been played, though, a consistent fan base has followed. That’s one of the many things that stand out for all involved over the years, especially for Daly-Donofrio.
“I also distinctly remember the group of gentleman who followed me the entire weekend. After the ceremony, all the other players and staff had left, and I just wanted to soak in the atmosphere,” Daly-Donofrio said. “I celebrated that win on the back patio with those gentleman who had encouraged me the whole way around the course. We talked about the tournament, golf and life and I was never more happy that I could pick up the check at the end of the evening as a thank you to them for their support.”
Action will begin at 7:30 a.m. ET all three days with first and second round play on Friday and Saturday, respectively, featuring groups of three heading off No. 1 and No. 10 tees. On Sunday, twosomes will begin on No. 1 tee with a trophy ceremony to follow the completion of the final round.
CHASE RICE TO PERFORM ON FRIDAY
All eyes will be on the golf course this week in Albany and not only for the competition taking place in the Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY, but also in anticipation of the concert on the course featuring country star Chase Rice.
Following the completion of play in the first round on Friday, the area behind No. 18 green will transform into a venue filled with music and celebration.
Perhaps the biggest fan of the former University of North Carolina (UNC) linebacker is Lori Beth Adams (Burlington, North Carolina). Although she is a University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) graduate and Duke University athletics fan, Adams said she can put those loyalties aside to cheer for Rice.
“I’m more excited for the concert than anything,” Adams said with a big smile. “He vacations in Bloomington, which is like three hours from my hometown, so he is a local guy. I remember seeing him sing at some of the bars in Chapel Hill, so I kind of knew of him before he got big.”
Meanwhile, another current Symetra Tour professional, but former UNC standout in Catherine O’Donnell (Ponte Vedra, Florida) spent time on campus with Rice.
“He was in his fifth year when I was a freshman,” said O’Donnell. “Also, he knew another girl on the golf team, so met him a few times and he seemed really interested in golf.”
Even though she didn’t listen to country music until college, O’Donnell added that her interest in the genre—and in Rice—grew because of his time as a contestant on Survivor: Nicaragua.
“I am the biggest Survivor fan,” O’Donnell said. “I followed him there and then I think his career took off after that. I love his music and have followed him ever since. I think his music is great.”
In 2015, Rice was nominated for “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” at the CMT Music Awards. He also co-wrote the single “Cruise” performed by Florida Georgia Line and released in 2012.
With some impressive credentials from Rice, it should be a pretty incredible second concert attended for Gabrielle Shipley (Hastings, Michigan).
“The only concert I have gone to is OneRepublic because I got free tickets,” Shipley said laughingly. “I think this is important because it brings in outside people. They see Chase Rice is here and also that there is a golf tournament, they can make a whole day of it.”