LONGWOOD, Fla. — The sixth stop on the 2020 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Symetra Tour to Alaqua Country Club in the Sunshine State for the seventh annual IOA Golf Classic presented by HomeValue.com from September 25-27.
Greeting the 108-player field in Longwood 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. The winner’s share for the event is $22,500.
Defending champion Marta Sanz Barrio (Madrid, Spain) is not among the competitors. She finished No. 13 in the 2019 Volvik Race for the Card with $67,244. The victory in central Florida was the second career win for Sanz Barrio and one of four top five finishes for the Auburn University alumna last year.
Action gets underway at 7:45 a.m. ET all three days with play starting off No. 1 and 10 tees in the first and second rounds. Groups will head off No. 1 tee in twosomes for the final round and a trophy presentation is to follow play on the 18th green.
COLLEGE TIES IN THE SUNSHINE STATE
A total of five Florida institutions for higher education are featured among the competition teeing it up at the IOA Golf Classic with several names to keep an eye on once the event starts Friday.
Florida Institute of Technology, Jacksonville University and University of Miami (FL) each have one lone representative in Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida), tournament sponsor exemption Jessica Welch (Thomasville, Georgia) and Dewi Weber (Groningen, Netherlands), respectively.
Florida State University has two representatives in Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia) and Frida Kinhult (Fiskebackskil, Sweden), while the University of Florida leads the way with four Gators in Sierra Brooks (Orlando, Florida), Amelia Lewis (Jacksonville, Florida), Karolina Vlckova (Kladno, Czech Republic) and Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Florida).
“I am very excited to play a stretch of tournaments in Florida. From back when I came here to play golf for the Gators at the University of Florida to now, it has been home for me,” said Vlckova, a two-time All-SEC Second Team selection. “Throughout our season, we play different style golf courses on different types of grass, which makes it fun and Florida golf has its own charm. I’m looking forward to the couple weeks ahead of us.”
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE IOA GOLF CLASSIC
A total of 26 countries are represented this week at the IOA Golf Classic led by the United States with 59 players and then followed by the Republic of Korea, Canada and Sweden having the next highest of five competitors.
“It’s great to come to the United States to play golf on both the LPGA Tour and Symetra Tour and it’s nice to represent where I am from with the flag behind me,” said Linnea Johansson (Bastad, Sweden). “I am glad to compete this week with four other players from Sweden in the field. I think that it is great for such a small country. I’m excited to return to the IOA Golf Classic and Alaqua is such a nice course.”
Individuals from 22 different states are also set to tee it up at Alaqua Country Club. Ten players are from the host state, while California is represented by 10 players as well.
“I can’t wait to be back in competition again this week with the Symetra Tour,” said August Kim (St. Augustine, Florida). “I have learned a lot in the last six months that has made me appreciate both the small and good things in life. I'm looking forward to being somewhere familiar and fun like Longwood.”
ROOKIES VENTURE TO ALAQUA COUNTRY CLUB
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Symetra Tour have made the trek to Seminole County, as 14 rookies are in the field and eager for the seventh event of the Symetra Tour season.
Among them is Sarah White (Grand Rapids, Michigan). The 2020 Founders Tribute Champion competed at Texas State University. In July, White finished in fifth at the Texarkana Children Charities Open on the Women’s All Pro Tour to earn exemption into the Founders Tribute for her Symetra Tour debut.
“It’s truly a special feeling to be competing in my rookie season,” said White. “It has been an incredible start to my first year as a pro. I look forward to learning and getting better as the year goes on.”
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 10 events on the 2020 calendar.
With six tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shuffling and welcomed one new player thanks to their performance at the Four Winds Invitational. Eight of the 10 members from the group are in Longwood including Janie Jackson (Huntsville, Alabama), currently No. 3 with $32,007 earned across five starts.“I’m looking forward to getting back to competition after a two-week break. It gave me time to work on some things with my coach Mark Blackburn, that I struggled with the last couple of events,” said Jackson, the 2020 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic champion. “My gameplan is to go into the Florida swing with an aggressive mindset and see where that takes me.”
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. Five cards will be awarded at the end of this season based on the total number of events on the restructured schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the inaugural year, a total of 157 players have graduated to the big stage.