BEAUMONT, Calif. — A total of 120 players will take on the challenge that Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon presents starting Friday with the first round of the sixth annual IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa.
Three featured groups highlight the competition for the second event of the 2021 Symetra Tour season.
Fatima Fernandez Cano, Demi Runas, Laetitia Beck (No. 1 tee, 7:48 a.m.)
Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) returns this week to Beaumont, CA to defend her 2020 title at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. Despite testing positive for coronavirus twice and being forced to miss two events last season (FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship and Symetra Tour Championship), Fernandez Cano worked her way into the top five of the Race for the Card rankings courtesy of six top-15 performances across eight starts. Last week, the Troy University alumna finished third in Mesa, AZ and took home a check for $19,501.
Clear Golf ambassador Demi Runas (Torrance, California) is back competing in her home state where she was born and raised, and where she played collegiate golf, at the University of California, Davis. A three-time Big West Conference Player of the Year for the Aggies, Runas has finished in the top-20 at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa the past three years.
Rounding out the group is Laetitia Beck (Caesarea, Israel). Beck is the first player to compete on the LPGA Tour from Israel and represented her native country in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. In the last two years, Beck has finished T3 and T6 at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa.
Bianca Pagdanganan, Cheyenne Woods, Ruixin Liu (No. 1 tee, 12:16 p.m.)
Before turning professional, University of Arizona alumna Bianca Pagdanganan (Mandaluyong City, Philippines) helped the Wildcats clinch the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship. She also won bronze in the women's individual golf event and gold in the team event at the 2018 Asian Games. As an LPGA Tour rookie in 2020, she made nine cuts in ten starts with a season-best finish of third at the LPGA Drive On Championship - Reynolds Lake Oconee. Pagdanganan led the LPGA Tour in average driving distance last year (283.07) and will be making her first start on the Symetra Tour this Friday.
Last season, Cheyenne Woods (Phoenix, Arizona) started the year off with a hole-in-one at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. Later in 2020, the Wake Forest University alumna recorded a season-best T6 finish at the Four Winds Invitational. Woods won the ACC Championship in 2011 with the Demon Deacons. Claiming two professional wins in her career, one on each the Ladies European Tour (LET) and Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour (ALPG Tour), Woods is looking to find her first win on the “Road to the LPGA.”
Following her fifth victory on the “Road to the LPGA” at Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic last week, Ruixin Liu (Guangdong, People’s Republic of China) travels to Beaumont, CA for the sixth annual IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. In 2020, she made the cut at both the LPGA Drive On Championship and the Marathon Classic presented by Dana. Liu was the 2018 Symetra Tour Player of the Year and hopes to build off last week’s win to earn her LPGA Tour card once again.
Anna Redding, Lucy Li, Clariss Guce (No. 1 tee, 1:11 p.m.)
In 2020, Symetra Tour rookie Anna Redding (Concord, North Carolina) claimed three top-five finishes including second place at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa. In 2015, she was a semifinalist at the North and South Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at Pinehurst.
Joining the group is Lucy Li (Redwood Shores, California). Last year she claimed five top-20 finishes to start her rookie season, including a second-place finish at the Symetra Classic. Li qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 11 to hold the distinction as the youngest player to ever qualify for the prestigious major championship. The 18-year-old will be competing in her 10th Symetra Tour event this week.Finally, Clariss Guce (Artesia, California) completes the pairing as she enters the second tournament of the season in her sixth year on Tour. Last season, Guce made six cuts in nine starts with a season best of T15 at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa. The California State University, Northridge alumna was a Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2014 and is a two-time Symetra Tour champion.