GLENDALE, Wis. — The 17th stop on the 2019 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Symetra Tour to Brown Deer Park Golf Course in the Badger State for the fifth annual PHC Classic from August 9-11.
Greeting the 144-player field in the greater Milwaukee area is a total purse of $125,000. 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. The winner’s share for the event is $18,750.
Defending champion Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville, Virginia) is among the competitors and the win was one of two Symetra Tour starts for her in 2018. The University of Virginia alumna held LPGA Tour membership, but competed since the event served as the official United States qualifier for The Evian Championship.
Action gets underway at 7:30 a.m. CT all three days with play starting off No. 1 and No. 10 tees in the first and second round. Meanwhile, all groups will head off No. 1 tee in twosomes for the final round with a trophy presentation to follow on No. 18 green.
COLLEGIATE CONNECTIONS AT 17TH STOP
Two individuals with ties to Wisconsin institutions for higher education are featured among competition in the Badger State and players to keep an eye on once the event starts Friday.
Bobbi Stricker (Madison, Wisconsin) will be a senior at the University of Wisconsin this fall and won the Badger Mutual Insurance Women’s Amateur last Wednesday at Brown Deer Park Golf Course to earn a spot in the field as a tournament sponsor exemption. Meanwhile, the lone Symetra Tour professional with a connection is 2012 UW graduate Jessie Gerry (Madison, Wisconsin).
“Born and raised in Madison makes competing professionally in Wisconsin very special,” said Gerry. “I was able to play collegiately for the University of Wisconsin, so having the opportunity to represent the Badgers all over the country then and now has been a dream come true. This ‘home’ event allows family and friends to come watch, who otherwise aren’t able to travel to other tournaments.”
Now in her sixth year on the “Road to the LPGA,” Gerry has made six starts this season. A tournament winner for the Badgers at the 2008 Badger Invitational, Gerry recalls a memorable golf experience that helped instill an appreciation for the sport and also has a unique relation to the PHC Classic.
“One of the first professional golf tournaments I ever saw in person was the Greater Milwaukee Open at Brown Deer on the PGA TOUR,” Gerry said. “For us to play on such a tremendous course that has hosted so many greats of the game is really, really cool. When I witnessed that event as a young girl, I could’ve never dreamed that one day I would have the chance to play at the same venue as a pro golfer.”
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE PHC CLASSIC
A total of 29 countries are represented this week at the PHC Classic, led by the United States with 79 players then followed by Canada having the next highest of nine competitors.
“The women’s game has definitely grown in Canada and I think it has a lot to do with the Golf Canada programs, including the Young Pro team which helps bridge the gap between amateur and professional life,” said Brittany Marchand (Orangeville, Ontario, Canada), a past champion of the PHC Classic in 2017 who has made 13 starts on the LPGA Tour this season. “We receive a lot of support in technical aspects of the game, as well as mental, fitness and nutrition. It’s also great to have a group of Canadians on both tours because we have known each other for years and are family. It means a lot to represent Canada.”
Individuals from 24 different states are also set to tee it up at Brown Deer Park Golf Course. Four players hail from the host state, while California boasts the most with 15.
“There’s so much great golf that Wisconsin has to offer and now playing competitively in my home state means I’ll hear extra cheers from all of the supportive fans in the crowd,” said Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin), who finished tied for third last year. “The PHC Classic is special because it is where I started my professional journey as a sponsor exemption in 2017, my first summer out of Stanford. It helped me transition from college to professional golf and had a positive impact on the start of my career.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE BADGER STATE
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Symetra Tour have made the trek to Milwaukee County, as 49 rookies are in the field and eager for the 17th event of the Symetra Tour season.
Among them is Anna Lesher (Ashland, Ohio), a University of South Alabama alumna. After missing the cut in each of her first three starts in 2019, Lesher went tied for ninth in The CDPHP Open at 9-under par overall. She also received a tournament sponsor exemption to the 2018 Symetra Tour Championship.
“This has been a thrilling roller-coaster ride of a year,” said Lesher. “From being on the alternate list and waiting to hear if I get into a field, all the anxiety then confirmation, it has been a rush to say the least. I showed my ability to compete with the best and after Albany, my confidence just keeps growing. It was affirmation I needed as I keep learning, but the light at the end of the tunnel to the LPGA shines bright.”
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 23 events on the 2019 calendar.
With 16 tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shifting following the 35th annual CDPHP Open. Seven members from the group are in Glendale including Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei, Chinese Taipei), currently ranked No. 6 and coming off 12 consecutive cuts made.
“We still have seven more tournaments to play and my goal is to get into the top-three by the end of the season,” said Cheng, who has seven top-15 results in 15 starts this year. “Every event means a lot to me, even if it’s only a $125,000 purse. That still is just as important to reach my goals and help push to where I want to be after the Symetra Tour Championship.”
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.