EL DORADO, Ark.— The fifth stop on the 2019 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Symetra Tour to Mystic Creek Golf Club in the Natural State for the fifth annual Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout from April 26-28.
Greeting the 144-player field in El Dorado, Ark. is a total purse of $150,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 54-hole stroke play format with a cut to the low 60 players and ties after 36 holes.
Defending champion Hyemin Kim (Seoul, Republic of Korea) is among the competitors. She won the fourth edition of the event in 2018 at 5-under par overall. The 30-year-old entered the 2019 Symetra Tour campaign with a total of nine top-10 finishes in 121 career starts.
Action gets underway at 7:30 a.m. CT in the first and second round with play starting off No. 1 and No. 10 tees all three days. Meanwhile, final round action will begin at 7:45 a.m. with a trophy presentation to follow on No. 18 green.
COLLEGIATE TIES RUN DEEP
A total of four Arkansas institutions for higher education are featured among the competition teeing it up at the fifth annual Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout with some names to keep an eye on once the event starts Friday.
The lone University of Arkansas alumna in the field is Summar Roachell (Conway, Arkansas), while Megan Vaughn (Lake Village, Arkansas) is a University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate. Furthermore, tournament sponsor exemption Sarah Wright (Fayetteville, Arkansas) went to Henderson State University.
However, the University of Central Arkansas has three individuals making the trek to El Dorado including Julia Roth (Karlskrona, Sweden), Brenda Gonzalez (Torreon, Mexico) and another tournament sponsor exemption in Maria Fernanda Lira Solis (Mexico City, Mexico).
“Competing in the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout is more special to me than other tournaments because it is very close to where I played college golf,” said Gonzalez, a 2017 All-Southland Conference First Team performer. “It makes me feel excited since I will have people I know watching and supporting me. Having played here last year, it is a great event and I’m so happy to be back.”
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE MURPHY USA EL DORADO SHOOTOUT
A total of 30 countries are represented this week at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, led by the United States with 86 players followed by Canada and the Republic of Korea having the next highest of seven and six competitors, respectively.
“We all come from different walks of life and are competing against each other, but when we step onto the course it feels like we are all the same,” said Min Seo Kwak (Seoul, Republic of Korea), who has made the cut in all four starts this year with a season-best tied for eighth finish at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa. “It’s an honor to represent my country each week on the Symetra Tour. Sometimes it can be difficult always traveling and away from home, but I’m happy to have Korean friends on Tour to remind me of home.”
Individuals from 24 different states are also set to tee it up at Mystic Creek Golf Club. A total of three players hail from the host state, while California boasts the most with 17.
“It means so much to play professionally in my home state with the support of family and friends,” said Roachell, who competed in the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout each of the past two years as a sponsor exemption. “They don’t get to watch me play often, so this week is extra special having them here. I love showing off the golf in my home state to everyone on Tour. It is going to be a busy and exciting time.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE NATURAL STATE
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Symetra Tour have made the trek to Union County, as 40 rookies are in the field and eager for the fifth event of the Symetra Tour season.
Among them is Gigi Stoll (Beaverton, Oregon), a member of the University of Arizona’s 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship team. She spent three and a half years in Tucson before turning pro and is coming off a career-best tied for 11th showing at the Windsor Golf Classic.
“I have enjoyed competing and getting comfortable as a rookie on the Symetra Tour,” Stoll said. “After a solid finish in just my second career event, it proved I can be in the mix and give myself a chance. I’m excited to begin another week and make my first stop in El Dorado.”
VOLVIK RACE FOR THE CARD UPDATE
The Symetra Tour annually awards LPGA Tour membership to the top players on the Volvik Race for the Card money list at the end of the season and will usher in the next graduating class after 24 events on the 2019 calendar.
With four tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shifting following the Windsor Golf Classic. Five of the 10 members from the group are in El Dorado including Kelly Tan (Batu Pahat, Malaysia), who stepped into the winner’s circle for the first time on the Symetra Tour earlier this season at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
“It is definitely important to take advantage of the limited number of players from the top-10 in the field this week,” said Tan,coming off back-to-back missed cuts.“I love how challenging Mystic Creek is and it really forces you to hit quality golf shots. The last two events I maybe lost a little concentration, but I’m excited to get back on the course, give it my all and see where that takes me. During the two weeks off, I spent a lot of time in the gym because it takes mental and physical prep to stay sharp on the road.”
From 1999-2002, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA handed out three cards. Then from 2003-2007, that number increased to five before 10 were distributed starting in 2008. Since the inaugural year, a total of 147 players have graduated to the big stage.