BEAUMONT, Calif.— A total of 144 players will take on the challenge that Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon presents starting Friday with the first round of the fourth annual IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa.
Three featured groups highlight the competition for the third event of the 2019 Symetra Tour season.
Kristy McPherson, Cheyenne Knight, Madison Pressel (No. 10 tee, 1:05 p.m.)
With a total of 19 career top-10 finishes on the Symetra Tour, Kristy McPherson (Conway, South Carolina) leads the way in this group. Now in her 17th year as a professional, the seven-time winner at the University of South Carolina surpassed the 200-career LPGA Tour starts plateau in 2018 and is also a two-time Symetra Tour champion (2006 Jalapeño Futures Golf Classic, Betty Puskar Futures Golf Classic).
Meanwhile, coming from her first made cut as a professional on the LPGA Tour at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Cheyenne Knight (Aledo, Texas) earned one of the final two spots in the Phoenix field through the Monday qualifier and finished tied for 40th. The 2017 SEC Player of the Year for the University of Alabama is in search of a second top-10 in as many starts on the Symetra Tour this season.
Rounding out the group is Madison Pressel (Boca Raton, Florida). In the first two events of 2019, Pressel finished tied for 34th at the SKYiGOLF Championship and tied for 11th at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. The last time the 2011 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year for the University of Texas ventured to Beaumont for the IOA Championship was 2017 when she earned a tied for 34th result.
Louise Ridderstrom, Jenny Coleman, Kyung Kim (No. 1 tee, 8:04 a.m.)
Each player in this trio has ties to the Golden State in one way or another. Louise Ridderstrom (Stocksund, Sweden) competed collegiately at UCLA and was a Women’s Golf Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-American as a sophomore in 2015. Last year, she stepped into the winner’s circle for the first time on the Symetra Tour at the inaugural Valley Forge Invitational.
In addition, Jenny Coleman (Rolling Hills Estates, California) is just down the road from her hometown and maintains the Pac-12 theme for the group. She is a University of Colorado alumna who holds or shares 28 program records. Since her first season on the Symetra Tour in 2016, Coleman has seven top-10s and concluded 21 tournaments with a score under par.
Finally, Kyung Kim (Chandler, Arizona) is another player with West Coast connections as a USC graduate. She has captured back-to-back top-15 results to open her third season on the Symetra Tour, finishing tied for 13th at the SKYiGOLF Championship and a career-best solo third at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. Kim is one of four former Trojans in the 144-player IOA Championship field.
Dewi Weber, Holly Clyburn, Yealimi Noh (No. 10 tee, 8:48 a.m.)
It has been a pretty seamless transition from amateur to professional golf for Dewi Weber (Groningen, Netherlands), with results of tied for 13th and tied for 14th in her first two starts as a rookie this season. A University of Miami (FL) alumna, Weber won three times during her collegiate career and was selected as a Women’s Golf Coaches Association Second Team All-American in 2017.
Another member of this featured group is Holly Clyburn (Grimsby, England), who made her first start on the Symetra Tour at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic two weeks ago. She was an instrumental part of Team England at the 2016 UL International Crown, posting a 2-1-0 overall record. Clyburn competed primarily on the LPGA Tour from her rookie year in 2016 through 2018.
Yealimi Noh (Concord, California) is an IOA Championship sponsor exemption. She verbally committed to UCLA in August 2017 before changing course and turning professional in January 2019. The 17-year-old finished second in a Cactus Tour event in late February on this week’s host course and because the medalist was already a Symetra Tour member, Noh received the invitation to compete.