DEFENDING CHAMP DRAWS CONFIDENCE FROM BREAKTHROUGH WIN
In her 121st start on the LPGA Tour, Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura finally found the winner’s circle at the 2018 Marathon Classic presented by Dana. Suwannapura finished her final round going eagle-birdie to post an early 65, before enduring an hour-long wait for the final groups to finish up. She watched from the clubhouse as Brittany Lincicome missed a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to head into a playoff. Suwannapura made a birdie on the par-5 18th to take home her first career LPGA trophy, and Wednesday at Highland Meadows Golf Club she reflected on the past year since her win.
“It definitely took a lot of pressure off from me,” Suwannapura said of her victory. “I feel like I don't need to concentrate on keeping my tour card. I’m actually concentrating on growing the game. Like my emotion, I feel way happier to play golf. I have more confidence and believe that there will be a good day for me and I probably win again sometime.”
Feeling confident is not something Suwannapura is taking for granted after she fought her way back from back surgery all the way to the winner’s circle.
“That's actually change a lot in many ways,” Suwannapura said of her new-found confidence. “I feel like after I broke my back in '16 and I have to scramble so hard to be on the tour and keep my card. I change my swing. I didn't hit straight like before. So it took a lot of time and effort to change my swing and play in a game again. Winning, it's like telling me that just don't give up on things. You have to believe that you are good enough to be out here and then you good at what you're doing.”
Suwannapura will kick off her title defense on the 10th tee at 8:21 a.m. Thursday alongside Jeongeun Lee6 and Jaye Marie Green.
FASSI LUCKY AND LIVING THE DREAM
2019’s NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Individual champion Maria Fassi is making the fifth start of her LPGA professional career this week at the Marathon Classic presented by Dana. With her victory at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark., Fassi earned an exemption into the Marathon Classic field, which she ended up earning on her own merit under the current year re-shuffle category.
“Giving us a spot as amateurs sometimes for the NCAA winner, it's huge. I think it's a great motivation for us to work hard and to get after that national championship,” said Fassi, two-time winner of the ANNIKA Award, given to the top female collegiate golfer. “Because then you know you're not only a national champion, but you're playing on an LPGA Tour event. It's great to have the opportunity that I have and I think I'm very lucky to have that.”
So far in 2019, Fassi has made two major appearances, a T12 finish at the U.S. Women’s Open and T48 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with two additional starts before making her first Highland Meadows Golf Club appearance this week.
“I feel like I'm just so lucky to be living my dream, to have finished my college career doing it on such a high note, winning nationals at home. And now being on the LPGA, it's amazing. It's overwhelming at times, but been a great experience so far,” said Fassi.
Fassi will be teeing off the first tee at 12:59 p.m. with Emma Talley and Haru Nomura.
CARTA RELISHES OPPORTUNITY
Between graduating from Duke University and helping Duke to win the NCAA Team Championship, it’s been a whirlwind few months for Virginia Elena Carta. As an added perk for winning the championship, the victorious team selects one player to compete at this week’s Marathon LPGA Classic. Carta, who also had the chance to compete at the Marathon LPGA Classic after winning the 2016 NCAA Individual Championship, relishes the opportunities this event has given her.
“It gives us the opportunity as amateur players when we play NCAA to play in a professional event and get to play with the best fields in the country. I'm really thankful that I won Nationals individually three years, four years ago. To be back this year because we won it as a team is just a great experience,” said Carta making her second Marathon LPGA Classic start. “I know everybody is looking forward to this week. When we play Nationals, everyone is looking forward to win it to play in the Marathon Classic. So it's just nice that it happened to be me. I'm grateful.”
While Carta is enjoying the opportunity to compete on the LPGA Tour, the 22-year-old Italian native not in a rush to turn professional. After this week, she plans to compete at the European Ladies' Amateur Championship, followed by the U.S. Women’s Amateur before heading to the University of Cambridge. Carta will be playing for the Cambridge men’s golf team while pursuing her master’s degree in environmental policy, with a focus on sustainable development and small-scale farming. She doesn’t plan to turn professional until next summer.
She made the cut in her LPGA debut back at the 2016 Marathon Classic, but this week she’s set on enjoying her opportunity at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
“I think I really like this course because it reminds me of my home course back home. It has a look to it that I think it's great. It's in great shape. We had a lot of rain this week, but the course is beautiful anyway. I think the field itself makes this event such a great event. I remember three years ago I made the cut and I had a lot of fun in my first few days, and I hope to do the same this week.”
Carta will tee off the first round alongside Jennifer Kupcho and Cheyenne Woods at 7:48 a.m. off the 10th tee.
LAST CHANCE TO QUALIFY FOR THE AIG WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN
The Marathon Classic presented by Dana is the final opportunity for LPGA players to earn a full exemption into the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open. After 72 holes, the top five LPGA Members that are not already exempt into the field will earn a spot into the season’s fifth major; however, they must have indicated to officials prior to the start of play that they would like to enter into the AIG Women’s British Open qualifier.
Last year, the following five players qualified for the AIG Women’s British Open with good finishes at the Marathon LPGA Classic: Jasmine Suwannapura, Daniela Darquea, Celine Herbin, Mina Harigae and Mel Reid.
Players will be competing on the Marquess’ Course at Woburn Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, England this year, competing for a share of the $4.5 million purse, a $1.25 million purse increase announced by the R&A earlier this week. In 2019 on the LPGA, players will compete for a record $70.2 million in total prize money; up $7.2 million over 2016 with the major prize money at $20.95 million.
DALE PITTMAN NOMINATED FOR AXA LPGA VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD
The AXA LPGA Volunteer Service Award is a program launched in 2018 to recognize exemplary volunteers at each LPGA tournament. This week’s award recipient is Dale Pittman, who has been a loyal volunteer with the Marathon Classic presented by Dana since the very first year in 1984.
After the 2019 season, the name of one AXA LPGA Volunteer Award recipient will be drawn in a random selection. That winning volunteer’s tournament charity will be awarded $10,000 on behalf of AXA.
For more information on the AXA LPGA Volunteer Service Award, visit: http://www.lpga.com/tournaments/axa-lpga-volunteer-service-award.