DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 20th and final stop on the 2021 “Road to the LPGA” brings the Symetra Tour to the Jones Course at LPGA International in the Sunshine State for the 14th annual Symetra Tour Championship from October 7-10.
Greeting the 108-player field in Daytona Beach is a total purse of $250,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 72-hole stroke play event with a cut to the low-60 players and ties after 36 holes. The winner’s share for the event is $37,500.
Defending champion Frida Kinhult (Fiskebackskil, Sweden) is among the competitors. The win last fall was the first of her career. Kinhult claimed two more top-10 finishes in 2020 (T7 at the Founders Tribute and T5 at the Symetra Classic), which helped her finish at No. 4 in the 2020 Race for the Card. Her 2021 season-best result of a tie for fourth came at the IOA Golf Classic presented by RP Funding.
Action gets underway at 8:00 a.m. ET all four days with play starting off No. 1 and No. 10 tees for each round. On Sunday, a trophy presentation will follow the completion of play on No. 18 green.
RACE FOR THE CARD UPDATE
The Symetra Tour annually awards LPGA Tour membership to the top players on the Race for the Card money list at the end of the season. On Sunday, the 2021 graduating class will be finalized following the conclusion of the Symetra Tour Championship.
With 19 tournaments in the books, the Race for the Card Top 10 underwent some shifting following the second annual Carolina Golf Classic presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Sophia Schubert (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) captured her first Symetra Tour win yesterday in Greensboro, N.C., with an eagle on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. The $30,000 winner’s check launched her six spots on the money list into the No. 3 position with $97,959, to officially secure her LPGA Tour card for the 2022 campaign.
Nine of the top 10 members are in Daytona Beach for the season finale and the top-six players—Lilia Vu, Fatima Fernandez Cano, Schubert, Ruixin Liu, Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Casey Danielson—have clinched a spot in the Race for the Card Top 10. Allison Emrey, Amanda Doherty, Rachel Rohanna and Morgane Metraux round out the group, hoping to clinch their spot this week. With a win, individuals in the range from Nos. 11-36 on the money list have a chance to jump into the top 10.
A total of $5,556 separates Emrey at No. 7 and Metraux at No. 10, and a $3,942 cushion exists between Metraux and Beth Wu at No. 11.
“The only thing I can control is my game, and if I play the way I need to, the rest will take care of itself,” said Emrey, who has earned $78,123 across 19 starts. “This is the exact reason why we push ourselves every week, is to have the opportunity to reach our dreams and make it to the LPGA Tour. This is the exact reason why we compete, why we never give up.”
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 162 players have graduated to the big stage.
COLLEGIATE TIES AT FINAL STOP
A total of six Florida institutions for higher education are featured among the competition teeing it up in the Symetra Tour Championship on Thursday, with several names in the Race for the Card hunt to watch once the event begins.
Florida Institute of Technology, Florida International University, the University of Miami, and University of South Florida each have one lone representative in Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida), Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough, England), Dewi Weber (Groningen, Netherlands) and Nicole Autrique (Cuauhtemoc, Mexico), respectively.
Meanwhile, Florida State University—with Frida Kinhult and current Race for the Card Nos. 8 and 10 Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia) and Morgane Metraux (Lausanne, Switzerland)—and the University of Florida—Sierra Brooks (Orlando, Florida), Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Florida) and Karolina Vlckova (Kladno, Czech Republic)—lead the way with three apiece.
“It’s always great to see fellow Gators on Tour and our alma mater provides an instant connection,” said Brooks, No. 13 in the Race for the Card with $62,345 earned across 19 starts and just $10,222 outside the top 10. “As a Florida native, I grew up playing tracks like the Jones Course at LPGA International. It is a comfortable setting for me. I’m glad to be in striking distance of the top 10 with one event remaining. This week is all about leaving it all on the course and having no regrets. That’s what I plan to do.”
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE SYMETRA TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
A total of 24 countries are represented this week at the Symetra Tour Championship, led by the United States with 54 players and then followed by Sweden having the next highest of seven competitors.
“Since I was a little girl, my dream has always been to compete out on the LPGA,” said Morgane Metraux, the lone Switzerland native in the field and current No. 10 in the Race for the Card. “It’s such a great feeling to be so close to your dreams, but there is still work to do to fulfill them. I won’t stop until I have made them come true. I’m proud to represent my country every week as a professional golfer.”
Individuals from 23 different states are also set to tee it up on the Jones Course at LPGA International. Nine players hail from the Florida, the most of any state.
“I’ve really seen a big leap forward in my game this season when it comes to the work I’ve put in and the results matching up,” said Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Florida), the No. 16 in the Race for the Card with $57,388 earned across 17 starts and just $15,179 outside the top 10. “I know it will take a big week to jump into the top 10, but I’m so thankful to even have the chance. My confidence is high and we’re in Florida, so I know these courses, the grass, the bounces you get. Anything can happen.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE SUNSHINE STATE
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Symetra Tour have made the trek to Volusia County, as 23 rookies are in the field for the 20th event of the Symetra Tour season.
Among them is Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia). The 26-year-old was a 2018 All-ACC selection for Florida State and finished in a tie for 61st at Stage II of the 2019 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to first earn Symetra Tour membership as a 2020/21 rookie. She has played the weekend 14 times in 18 starts this season on the Symetra Tour with seven top-10 finishes and a career-best result of runner-up at the IOA Golf Classic presented by RP Funding in May.
“The shortened season in 2020 allowed me to ease into the professional game and I learned so much to set myself up for success in 2021,” the second-year rookie said. “It’s crazy to think I’m still technically a rookie and at No. 8 in the Race for the Card, my future is in my hands. I’m excited for the Symetra Tour Championship and my game is in a great spot after finishing in a tie for fifth last week in Greensboro.”