This week's second annual Florida's Natural Charity Classic will bring together an eclectic mix of returning veterans hoping to take the next big step, new professionals transitioning out of collegiate and amateur golf, and more than a few pros hoping to improve on their performance from the 2009 season.
“Technically, I am an LPGA rookie, but I missed out on a full card for 2010 by less than $1,600,” said WHITNEY WADE of Glasgow, Ky., who finished sixth on the Tour's 2009 season money list $1,546 behind No. 5 finisher SONG YI CHOI (who has full 2010 LPGA status).
“Having partial LPGA status this year is bittersweet,” added Wade. “I'm going to play a full urame FUTURES Tour schedule this season and I'm looking forward to it. Now I know that I can win because I did it last year. And if I play well, I'll earn my way onto the LPGA Tour with a full card.”
CHRISTINE SONG, a 2009 rookie, finished last season eighth on the Duramed FUTURES Tour's money list to also earn partial 2010 LPGA Tour status.
“Maybe I will have an advantage this year because most of the courses we are playing are the same,” said Song, 18, of Fullerton, Calif., who had six top-10 finishes in 17 events last season. “I definitely want to improve on what I did last year.”
“I was busy planning a wedding last year, so it was a good distraction,” added DANAH FORD BORDNER of Indianapolis, who finished 13th on the Duramed FUTURES Tour's 2009 money list and posted a career-best five top-10 season finishes. “I am ready to play.”
Indeed, that was the consensus by players from both the LPGA and the Duramed FUTURES Tour at last week's Florida Women's Open. Many of those players will have the chance to get going this week, starting with the first tee times on Friday at 8:15 a.m., at Lake Region Yacht and Country Club.
The 2010 Duramed FUTURES Tour season opener will bring a talented field to Central Florida that includes 2009 winners ANGELA BUZMINSKI of Oshawa, Ontario, ALLISON HANNA of Portland, Ore., SAMANTHA RICHDALE of Kelowna, British Columbia, and DEWI CLAIRE SCHREEFEL of Diepenveen, Netherlands – all 2010 LPGA Tour members.
Other 2009 tournament winners in this week's field are Wade, ELISA SERRAMIA of Barcelona, Spain, and JENNY SUH of Fairfax, Va.
Playing in her first full season as a professional will be 2009 rookie TIFFANY JOH of San Diego, who was the medalist of the Duramed FUTURES Tour's Qualifying Tournament last November. Runner-up at that event was Canadian rookie pro DANIELLE MILLS of Pointe-Claire, Quebec, hoping this week to repeat the level of play she brought to Winter Haven last fall for the 90-hole Q-School.
Several promising rookies in the field will include: LEANNE BOWDITCH of Queensland, Australia (sister of Nationwide Tour member Steven Bowditch); NANNETTE HILL of Pelham, N.Y., potentially the most talented former Wake Forest University player since current LPGA veteran LAURA DIAZ; three-time U.S. Junior Solheim Cup Team member JANE RAH of Torrance, Calif., who left Oklahoma State University to turn pro this year; and Florida State University grad CAROLINE WESTRUP of Ahus, Sweden, a Swedish member of the winning 2006 Women's World Amateur Team Championship.
One current amateur Tour member, JENNIFER SONG, will spend her spring break at the University of Southern California playing alongside the pros in this week's tournament. Song, of Ann Arbor, Mich., won both the 2009 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship and the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, and was also the 2009 individual runner-up at the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship. She is a sophomore at USC and will play as an amateur at the LPGA's 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship next month. Song has announced her intention to turn professional at the end of the spring collegiate season, rejoining the Duramed FUTURES Tour as a pro after the NCAA Championship.
But this week, Song will have to face the player who edged her out of the 2009 national title. Returning will be 2009 NCAA individual champion MARIA HERNANDEZ of Pamplona, Spain, who will be in the Winter Haven field. Playing in her first full professional season, Hernandez has 2010 LPGA and Ladies European Tour status. She was a member of the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2009.
Looking for break-through seasons will be 2009 rookies CINDY LACROSSE of Tampa, Fla., who had five top-10 finishes in 11 starts last year, former Duke University All-American and U.S. Curtis Cupper JENNIE LEE of Henderson, Nev., who recorded three top-10s in 10 starts, and KRISTIE SMITH of Perth, Australia, who finished with three top-10s in an injury-plagued 2009 season that allowed her to compete in only nine events.
“I'm hitting it well and putting well and I feel like I'm doing everything right,” said LaCrosse, a 2010 LPGA Tour member who won two Florida mini-tour tournaments during the off-season. “I'm antsy to get started and I think the experience I got last year will make a big difference this year.”
Last year, PAOLA MORENO of Cali, Colombia was busy completing her degree at the University of Southern California, where she was the 2008 Pac-10 Conference individual champion and member of USC's 2008 NCAA Championship team. Moreno managed two top-10s in only seven events last year, including a tie for second in New Hampshire, but expect to see more of her this year. She also is a 2010 LPGA Tour member.
Also expect to see a revived SOFIE ANDERSSON of Angelholm, Sweden step up this year. Her last Tour win came in 2007, but Andersson underwent a regimented off-season routine that she hopes will kick-start her year. She recently won a tournament on the Cactus Tour in preparation for the 2010 season. [Check out Andersson's player blog in this Thursday's Entertainment section of duramedfuturestour.com.]
Long-hitting GERINA MENDOZA finished the 2009 season 12th on the Duramed FUTURES Tour's money list and earned 2010 LPGA Tour membership at Q-School, but Mendoza plans to play a full-time schedule this year on the developmental tour.
“It will take a lot of stress off if I don't go back and forth between the two tours,” said Mendoza, a third-year pro out of Roswell, N.M. “Now I know that when I wanted to be on the LPGA Tour two years ago, I wasn't ready. But I'm getting a lot closer and this year, I'll work on winning and getting my full LPGA card that way.”
Topics: Press Release