PRATTVILLE, Ala. — The 17th stop on the 2021 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Symetra Tour to the Senator Course at Capitol Hill on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in the Heart of Dixie for the fourth annual Guardian Championship, September 17-19.
Greeting the 120-player field in Prattville is a total purse of $175,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 54-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 $26,250.
Defending champion Laura Restrepo (Panama City, Panama) is among the competitors. The win in central Alabama was her first career win. Restrepo claimed two more top-10 finishes this season in T8 at the Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship and T10 at the Donald Ross Classic at French Lick Resort.
Action gets underway at 7:00 a.m. CT in the first and second round with play starting off No. 1 and No. 10 tees all three days. Meanwhile, final round action will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a trophy presentation to follow on No. 18 green.
COLLEGE TIES AT 17TH STOP
A total of four Alabama institutions for higher education are featured among the competition teeing it up at the Guardian Championship with several names to keep an eye on once the event starts Friday.
Troy University, Alabama State University and Auburn University have one lone representative in Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), tournament sponsor exemption Jade Sanders (Pensacola, Florida) and Marta Sanz Barrio (Madrid, Spain) respectively.
“I love getting to play close to home. I’ve called Alabama my ‘home away from home’ for about 8 years now, between college in troy and living in Birmingham now, crazy,” said Fernandez Cano. “I really enjoy the golf course and how welcomed I felt at this event for the past years so I’m looking forward to come back and enjoy my time in Prattville.”
Furthermore, three former members of rival University of Alabama are in town including Janie Jackson (Huntsville, Alabama), Lakareber Abe (The Woodlands, Texas) and Mia Landegren (Stockholm, Sweden).
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE GUARDIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
A total of 28 countries are represented this week at the Guardian Championship led by the Red, White and Blue with 61 players and then followed by Sweden having the next highest of eight competitors.
“It’s really cool to feel like I’m representing England while I compete out here. I have so many great memories from my amateur days, and I know there’s some fantastic players coming through the ranks now, so hopefully they can see that there are many different paths you carve out to be successful. It also feels like I’m representing a little bit of the LET too, which means a lot to me. It’s been so pivotal in my career, and I feel like I’m going home anytime I play an event over there,” said Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough, England). “Likewise, seeing the success of the European teams in the Solheim and junior Solheim is so inspiring and exciting for the future. I think it’s just the start of a new great chapter for European golf and women’s golf in general.
Individuals from 22 different states are also set to tee it up on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill. One player’s hail from the host state, while California and Florida boast the most with ten apiece.
“It’s not often you get to have a ‘home event’ in golf but for me this is as close as it gets. Every year the staff and volunteers at Capitol Hill make it one of the best run tournaments we play all season long,” said Janie Jackson (Huntsville, Alabama). “This is a course I’ve been familiar with for 10+ years so I’m excited to get back down there and give it my best go on a really fun track.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE YELLOWHAMMER STATE
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Symetra Tour have made the trek to Autauga County, as 26 rookies are in the field and eager for the 17th event of the Symetra Tour season.
Among them is Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia). She was an All-ACC Selection in 2018 for Florida State University, as well as competed in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Doherty will head into this week at No. 9 in the Race for the Card with the help of six top-10 finishes.
“I think having an extra rookie season in a way has been good for my game. It allowed me last year to really focus on learning what I needed to improve going forward,” said Doherty. “One of the biggest things that I have learned is that I really have to stay patient and stay in the moment because it’s a long season and I can’t get too caught up on any one thing.”
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. With 16 tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shifting after the Circling Raven Championship. Eight members from the group are in Alabama including Rachel Rohanna (Marianna, Pennsylvania), currently ranked No. 6.
“I'm just trying to stick to my game plan for the remainder of the season. Staying patient and trying to take it one shot at a time,” said Rohanna, who has claimed two second place finishes this season. “I know my game is in a great place so I'm really trying to just stay out of my own way.”
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.