DAYTONA BEACH, FL. — The seventh stop on the 2020 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Symetra Tour to LPGA International in the Sunshine State for the ninth annual Symetra Classic from October 1-4.
From 2012-2016, the Symetra Classic was contested at Raintree Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. The event then spent one year at Atlanta National Golf Club in Milton, Ga. before returning to North Carolina in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and now travels to Florida for the first time.
Greeting the 108-player field in Daytona Beach, Fla. is a total purse of $175,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 72-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 $26,250.
Defending champion Leona Maguire (County Cavan, Ireland) is not among the competitors, as she finished No. 7 in the Volvik Race for the Card with $92,517. The victory was one of seven top-10 results and two wins for Maguire last season.
First, second and final round action gets underway at 8:00 a.m. ET off No. 1 and No. 10 tees. Following the final group on Sunday, the trophy presentation will take place on No. 18 green.
COLLEGE TIES RUN DEEP AT SEVENTH STOP
A total of six Florida institutions for higher education are featured among the competition teeing it up at the Symetra Classic with several names to keep an eye on once the event starts on Thursday.
Florida Institute of Technology, Jacksonville University and Florida International University have one lone representative each in Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida), Jessica Welch (Thomasville, Georgia) and Meghan MacLaren (Rushden, England), respectively.
Florida State University and University of Miami (FL) each have two representatives in Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia) and Frida Kinhult (Fiskebackskil, Sweden), and Dewi Weber (Groningen, Netherlands) and Delfina Acostsa (Cte. N. Otamendi, Argentina).
“I love that we get to play a few events in Florida, although I’m not originally from here, after playing for FSU it feels like home,” said Doherty, coming off of a top-5 finish in Longwood. “Also, the typical style of golf course in Florida and the Bermuda greens are what I am used to, so it feels very comfortable to play here.”
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).
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE SYMETRA CLASSIC
A total of 26 countries are represented this week at the Symetra Classic, led by the United States with 62 players and followed by Sweden having the next highest of five competitors.
“It is an honor representing the United States of America every time I tee it up. The United States is my home, and I feel very thankful that I get to play golf as my job,” said Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville, VA). “My game is feeling really good. It is encouraging to see the progress I made the past couple years, where I was struggling to make cuts out here my rookie year to now having three top-10 finishes out of four starts this season.”
Individuals from 23 different states are also set to tee it up at LPGA International. Ten players hail from the host state, while California follows with nine.
“I’m very excited to be back in my home state to play a few events with the Symetra Tour,” said eight-time Symetra Tour Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Florida), eight-time Symetra Tour Champion. “My game feels good and I look forward to using my Florida golf experience on this type of grass and greens to have a good week.”
ROOKIES TRAVEL TO THE EAST COAST
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Symetra Tour have made the trek to Volusia County, as 19 rookies are in the field and eager for the seventh event of the Symetra Tour season.
Among them is Ana Belac (Portoroz, Slovenia) who made every cut in her first five career starts including a top-five finish last week. She was a two-time All-ACC selection for Duke University and led the Blue Devils to the 2019 NCAA Championship team title for the seventh in program history.
“I feel like after a couple of events under my belt I’m getting more and more comfortable with the lifestyle out here and adjusting to the rhythm of professional golf. I’m still trying to figure out how to put three or four consistent rounds together, but I can tell I’m closer with every tournament,” said Belac. “Each week I am gaining more experience playing new courses and meeting new people who have been out here longer than me. I’m really excited to play next week again down here and I’m extra excited for the last two events of the season in my ‘home away from home”.
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 shifting following the IOA Golf Classic presented by HomeValue.com. Nine of the 10 members from the group are in Daytona Beach including current No. 10, Haylee Harford (Leavittsburg, Ohio), who captured her first top-five finish last week.
“I'm super excited to be in the top-10 now. It's been my dream to play on the LPGA Tour since I started the game as a little girl,” said Harford. “I'm just so thankful for everyone who's put time and hard work into getting us to be able to play so yeah definitely without them I don't think we would be out here so I'm very thankful to them and all the other title sponsors.”
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.