By Bob Carney
Quick. What’s the only professional golf event sponsored by an aeronautical university?
Wow. You’re way ahead of us.
That’s right. It’s the Symetra Tour’s final event of the year, the Tour Championship, sponsored by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, one of 15 events on the tour once known as the Futures Tour. Symetra is to the LPGA what the Web.com Tour is to the PGA Tour.
The top 10 Symetra Tour money-earners after the Embry-Riddle earned their LPGA Tour cards, with fully exempt status on the big tour. The next 12 players earn automatic entry into Stage III of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, held in December.
Here’s some other things you should know about the Symetra Tour, especially if you’re going to talk to any of our Symetra Tour stars today:
The LPGA’s developmental tour launched in 1981. In 2011, Symetra, a U.S. financial services specializing in annuities and life insurance, signed a multi-year agreement to become its sponsor. For the past 15 years of the tour’s 33-year history, players have earned automatic exemptions onto the LPGA Tour from the Symetra Tour.
This year marks the second year that fully exempt status will be awarded to the top 10 money winners in the Race for the Card.
Symetra Tour alumnae are among the best players in the world and have accounted for an amazing 370 LPGA victories, including 41 majors!!! They include:
–Lorena Ochoa, winner of 24 tournaments, including 2 majors;
–Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, of Australia, a winner of 39 events and 7 majors;
–23-time winner (including 4 majors) Laura Davies;
–Inbee Park, winner of 3 consecutive 2013 women’ majors;
–Meg Mallon (19 victories, 4 majors), captain of this year’s Solheim Cup team, along with her assistant captains Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz;
–Current and past Solheim Cup team members including Cristie Kerr, Christina Kim, Vicky Hurst and Angela Stanford.
–Stacy Lewis, who followed 16 top-10 finishes in 2012 with her second major, the 2013 Ricoh British Women’s Open;
It’s no stretch to suggest that current Symetra aspirants will reach similar heights. Players to watch:
P.K. Kongkraphan, of Thailand, in her third year, leads the money list—she won in July and has had 3 top-ten finishes since.
Christine Song, of Burbank, California, who has won twice this year on the Symetra Tour, including the Eagle Classic in August.
Cydney Clanton, who played her collegiate golf at Auburn and joined the tour last year, won the Four Winds Invitational in June and has finished in the top ten 3 times this year.
Sue Kim, out of the University of Denver, with one 2013 win and a handful of top 10s.
Kim Kaufman of Texas Tech, formerly ranked the No. 1 U.S. collegiate golfer and has already won on the Symetra Tour. Wondering about how to get your kids started? Kim began playing at 4!
Olivia Jordan-Higgins, of England, won the Credit Union Classic in July in her third year on tour.
Jaclyn Sweeney, who played at Arizona State University, has 2 victories in 2 seasons on tour, and made a remarkable 14 cuts in 15 events during her rookie season last year and has been ranked in the top ten throughout the 2013 season.
Jackie Stoelting, began playing at age 4, and was a member of the winning 2007 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championship team.
Melissa Eaton, who joined the tour last year from Lousiana State University, won at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in March.
Symetra stars at the 24th Annual Cox Classic join Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, winner of 31 LPGA events, including six major championships, and Val Skinner, who won six times on the LPGA Tour, including the 1985 Konica San Jose Classic (over one Pat Bradley). Skinner’s Foundation is a beneficiary of the Cox Classic, and conducts one of the leading breast-cancer education programs in the country.
We’re thrilled to have with us representatives of the LPGA’s storied past, and, in these Symetra Tour stars, young players who will write the story of its future.
From now on when you hear Symetra, think: One High-flying Tour!