SOUTH BEND, Ind. —The 5th stop on the 2020 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Symetra Tour to Blackthorn Golf Club in the Hoosier State for the ninth annual Four Winds Invitational from September 4-6.
Greeting the 132-player field in South Bend, Ind. 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 Perrine Delacour (Paris, France) is not among the competitors and the win was the first of her Symetra Tour career. Following her victory Delacour continued to excel and won the Prasco Charity Championship which propelled her to finish at No. 1 in the final Volvik Race for the Card standings for 2019.
In addition to the normal payout, also marks the second of two events in this year’s Potawatomi Cup series. As well as the normal purse payout for each event, players receive “Potawatomi Points” with $20,000 in bonus money to be distributed following the final round. The top five players in the points standings receive a sum from the prize pool including $10,000 to the Potawatomi Cup winner and $5,000 to the runner-up.
First and second round action gets underway at 7:45 a.m. ET. Meanwhile, the final round will start at 9:00 a.m. with play beginning from No. 1 and No. 10 tees all three days.
SEVERAL COLLEGIATE TIES AT THIRD STOP
Four individuals with ties to Indiana institutions for higher education are featured among the competition in the Hoosier State and names to keep an eye on once the event starts on Friday.
Indiana State University and Indiana University each respectively have one representative in. Reece Feducia (San Clemente, California) and Erin Harper (Dublin, Ohio). Meanwhile, the Purdue University leads the way with two alumnae in the field with Anna Appert Lund (Bromma, Sweden) and Paula Reto (Bloemfontein, South Africa).
“It’s always fun to come back to Indiana, I have a lot of memories here,” said Harper, who was named Big Ten Championship All-Tournament team her senior year. “I played in this event last year and I really enjoyed the layout of the course and everyone’s warm hospitality. I’m looking forward to my week back in the Hoosier state.”
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE FOUR WINDS INVITATIONAL
A total of 23 countries are represented this week at the Four Winds Invitational, led by the United States with 89 players then followed by Canada and the People’s Republic of Korea having the next highest of five competitors apiece.
“I always feel so honored to represent Canada in every event that I play in. I can feel the love and support from anywhere,” said Maddie Szeryk (Ontario, Canada). “I’m really excited to play at this course again. I have a few good memories from last year, and it’s awesome knowing that two Canadians have won this event (Brooke Henderson (Smiths Falls, Ontario) in 2015 and Nicole Vandermade (Brantford, Ontario) in 2014).”
Individuals from 24 different states are also set to tee it up at Blackthorn Golf Club. Zero players hail from the host state, while 14 players hail from Florida and California just behind with 13.
“The Four Winds Invitational has been one of my favorites stops on tour since my rookie year. I’ve had great tournaments both times I’ve played at Blackthorn Golf Club,” said Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Florida), who finished T4 in 2018 and T12 last year in South Bend. “The golf course suits my game well and I am excited to play here given all the work I’ve done on my swing in the off season. Even though I live in Florida, this tournament and course always feels like coming home because it reminds of playing golf in Pennsylvania when I was younger. I am so grateful that we are able to have this tournament and South Bend is still able to be a part of our season this year.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE HOOSIER STATE
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Symetra Tour have made the trek to St. Joseph County, as 36 rookies are in the field and ready for the 5th event of the Symetra Tour season.
Among them is Janet Mao (Johns Creek, Georgia), competing this weekend only two hours away from her alma mater, Northwestern University. Mao has played the weekend in three& of four weekends this year, with a season-best showing of tied for twenty-first at the OA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa.
“Playing in the Midwest does have a little sense of comfort with aspects like the look of the courses and the bent grass that I was around in college,” said Mao. “Playing in the Midwest gives me the opportunity to spend some time in Chicago in the off-weeks after the events to see really close friends, practice with my former teammates, and see my coach, obviously socially distanced nowadays.”
“Rookie year has definitely not been what I expected it to be, but I am so thankful to have the opportunity to still be playing—for all that goes on behind-the-scenes with the Tour’s staff to keep us playing safely and for the sponsors who continue to support the Tour and us players through these times,” Mao added.
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 nine events on the 2020 calendar.
With four tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shifts following the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. Eight of the 10 members from the group are in South Bend including current No.6 rookie Anna Redding(Concord, North Carolina), who has made all four cuts this year including a solo second finish in Beaumont, Calif.
“I was proud of how my game looked in California. Coming off a tournament where I shot my personal best has not only helped my confidence but achieve my pre-season goal to find myself in the top-10,” said Redding. “I’m looking forward to competing in the rest of my rookie season, learning more each tournament, and will be working hard to keep my name in the Volvik Race for the Card.”
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.