PLAYERS ON THE 2020 “ROAD TO THE LPGA” WILL COMPETE FOR HIGHEST AVERAGE PURSE SIZE IN TOUR HISTORY
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Symetra Tour released the preliminary “Road to the LPGA” 2020 schedule today, featuring 20 tournaments and $3.6 million in total purses with an average purse size of $180,000, the highest mark in the 40-year history of the Tour.
For perspective, this average purse size is up nearly 50 percent from $121,000 in 2015. In addition, this is the seventh consecutive season to see an increase in the average purse size.
“This past weekend’s LPGA Tour win by 2016 Symetra Tour Player of the Year, Madelene Sagstrom, truly represents the readiness of Symetra Tour professionals when they make the jump to the big stage,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “We continue to make strides in providing our players with opportunities throughout the United States by collaborating with partners who share in the vision of growing women’s professional golf.”
More than 300 players from at least 40 different countries hold Symetra Tour membership in 2020.
TWO NEW EVENTS ENTER VOLVIK RACE FOR THE CARD
A minimum of six tournaments will feature a total purse of $200,000 or more, including two new events on the Symetra Tour calendar.
The first newcomer is the Circling Raven Championship from August 28-30 in Worley, Idaho. Circling Raven Golf Club—an amenity of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel—serves as the host venue and is ranked as the No. 1 public course in the Gem State. Meanwhile, the other addition is the Copper Rock Championship at Copper Rock Golf Course in Hurricane, Utah from September 3-5. This will be the first time the Symetra Tour will compete in the Beehive State since the Park City Classic at Park City Golf Club in 1987. Both new tournaments feature $200,000 purses.
“Even though we anticipate still adding another event or two, it is important for our players and fans to have the preliminary schedule to plan their upcoming season accordingly,” Nichols said. “The Circling Raven and Copper Rock communities have been extremely welcoming in the process of working to bring them on board, and we are excited they are now part of the Symetra Tour family.”
At the end of the season, the top-10 players on the official Volvik Race for the Card money list graduate to the LPGA Tour for the 2021 season. Every year since 2008, the top-10 players have been awarded LPGA Tour membership. That will happen once again in 2020 as players look to join the 157 graduates before them who made the leap to the LPGA Tour.
Those who finish from Nos. 11-35 on the official Volvik Race for the Card money list will advance to Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina for the third annual LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. The first four rounds will be contested October 21-24 on the Rees Jones-designed Pinehurst Course No. 7, while the last four rounds take place at Jack Nicklaus-designed Pinehurst Course No. 9 from October 28-31.
POTAWATOMI CUP BACK FOR SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR
A unique aspect to the Symetra Tour schedule is the Potawatomi Cup, back for a seventh straight year in 2020. The contest highlights the contributions of four member tribes from the Potawatomi Nation that host tournaments throughout the Midwest.
Events are split between June, July and August, with the ninth annual Four Winds Invitational set to open the series in South Bend, Indiana at Blackthorn Golf Club from June 12-14. Then from June 19-21, Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris, Michigan hosts the 10th annual Island Resort Championship. Potawatomi Cup play continues July 24-26 with the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek, Michigan at Battle Creek Country Club. Finally, the PHC Classic hosted at Brown Deer Park Golf Course in Glendale, Wisconsin concludes competition from August 7-9.
As well as the normal purse payout for each event, a total of $40,000 in bonus money is available to players based on their performance including $6,000 to the winner of the Potawatomi Cup. First through fifth place in each of the four tournaments receives a sum of unofficial prize money on top of their earnings. The event winner takes home an additional $3,000 and second place collects $2,500. Third place earns $1,500 with amounts from there for the final two spots decreasing in increments of $500.
“Having the Potawatomi Nation tribes come together with the Symetra Tour to provide this opportunity for the next generation of LPGA Tour stars is really special,” said Matt Wesaw, the Chairman of Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians who host the Four Winds Invitational. “We are thrilled to again be part of the Potawatomi Cup with the first of the four events in the Four Winds Invitational, which continues to impact the South Bend community and grow every year.”
Furthermore, 2020 will mark the second consecutive year the Island Resort Championship serves as the official United States qualifier for The Evian Championship. Since the inception of this relationship in 2016 when the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship was the springboard, the qualifier annually sends the top two finishers to the LPGA Tour’s prestigious major championship. The Island Resort Championship took the reins from the PHC Classic, which provided the exemptions in 2017 and 2018.
“What an honor it is to work with The Evian Championship to provide two deserving individuals spots in the field of this prestigious LPGA Tour major,” said Tony Mancilla, General Manager for Island Resort & Casino. “We strive to make the Island Resort Championship the most welcoming and exciting event on the Symetra Tour, and this platform really elevates us to the next level. It is going to be another fantastic year when the ‘Road to the LPGA’ stops in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Island Resort & Casino.”
INSURANCE OFFICE OF AMERICA CONTINUES TITLE SPONSOR PORTFOLIO
Two years after expanding their partnership with the Symetra Tour from two events to three, Insurance Office of America (IOA) is once again set to host three tournaments, demonstrating their commitment to growing women’s professional golf.
The IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa will be the first of the two California tournaments on the schedule, returning to Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont for a fifth time from March 27-29. Then from May 7-9, Atlanta National Golf Club in Milton, Georgia welcomes the third annual IOA Invitational. Rounding out the trio is the IOA Golf Classic in Longwood, Florida at Alaqua Country Club from September 25-27.
“Continuing to partner with Symetra Tour is an easy decision for us because of shared values and goals, especially helping to create a path for young women to strive for their dreams,” said Insurance Office of America (IOA) Chairman and CEO, Heath Ritenour. “Along with being the presenting sponsor at Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on the LPGA Tour, our platform extends from California to Georgia, down to Florida, as we connect with people and aim to make a difference everywhere in between.”
13 STATES TO WELCOME SYMETRA TOUR WITH OPEN ARMS
On the “Road to the LPGA” in 2020, the Symetra Tour will swing through 13 states. Six will host multiple events including Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan and New York.
“One of our priorities was to find more partners out West and we did, with tournaments added in Idaho and Utah,” Nichols said. “The 40th anniversary season of the Symetra Tour is sure to be exhilarating, as the continued growth of purses and talented fields of players will make the Volvik Race for the Card that much more competitive. March will be here before we know it.”
The season opens with the 12th annual Florida’s Natural Charity Classic from March 6-8 at the Country Club of Winter Haven in Winter Haven, Florida. Meanwhile, the second California event is the Windsor Golf Classic at Windsor Golf Club in Sonoma County from April 2-4.
Tour entitlement partner Symetra is set to host two events once again. The first is the ninth edition of the Symetra Classic to be contested May 13-15 for a third straight year in Davidson, North Carolina at River Run Country Club. In addition, the Symetra Tour Championship from October 1-4 will conclude the season at LPGA International in Daytona Beach.
Seven other tournaments return to the Symetra Tour schedule in 2020 including the Zimmer Biomet Championship in Opelika, Alabama (Lake Course at Grand National on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, May 20-23), The CDPHP Open in Albany, New York (Capital Hills at Albany, May 29-31), Prasco Charity Championship in Maineville, Ohio (TPC River’s Bend, June 26-28), Donald Ross Classic in French Lick, Indiana (Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort, July 9-11), Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic in Rochester, New York (Brook Lea Country Club, July 16-19), Garden City Charity Classic in Garden City, Kansas (Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, August 14-16) and Guardian Championship in Prattville, Alabama (Senator Course at Capitol Hill on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, September 18-20).