Symetra Tour could bring a perfect 10 to Beaver Meadow
When the Northeast Delta Dental International tees off on Friday at Beaver Meadow Golf Course, it will mark the 10th year the LPGA’s developmental tour has come to Concord. And the tournament is the 10th stop on the Symetra Tour, which rewards its top-10 money winners with LPGA memberships.
There’s a chance another piece will be added to that symmetry of “10” when the tournament concludes on Sunday. Nine different players have won the nine Symetra events so far this year, so a new winner will make it 10-for-10.
It will be challenging for a newcomer to break into that winner’s circle, however, since eight of this year’s nine winners will be in the field of 143 at Beaver Meadow – Jaclyn Sweeney, Melissa Eaton, Christine Song, Laura Kueny, Giulia Molinaro, Cydney Clanton, Kim Kaufman and Wei-Ling Hsu – and six of those eight are currently among the top-10 money winners in the Volvik Race for the Card. The only 2013 winner who won’t be on hand this week is Sue Kim, who also happens to be No. 1 on the money list with $33,693.
Clanton, who is also a member of the LPGA Tour, sits at No. 2 on the Symetra money list with $30,331 and her 2013 win came on June 23 in South Bend, Ind., when she survived a seven-hole playoff. The Concord, N.C., native played collegiate golf at Auburn University and currently ranks eighth on the Symetra Tour in three categories – drive distance (262.813 yards), greens in regulation (75 percent) and rounds under par (eight).
Sweeney is third on the money list ($29,550) and won the first event of the season back on Feb. 24. Sweeney, who is from Bradenton, Fla., and went to Arizona State University, finished 13th on the money list last year and tied for 26th at the 2012 Northeast Delta Dental International. Keuny is fourth in the money standings at $27,915, which included her $15,000 prize for winning the Symetra Classic in Charlotte, N.C., on May 11. She has been up-and-down since then, however, missing the cut in two of her last four tournament appearances, but also finishing second on June 16 in Decatur, Ill.
Eaton, who hails from South Africa, is fifth on the money list with $24,676, most of which came when she earned $18,750 for winning the second event of the season on March 24 with an eagle on the 54th and final hole. Hsu, who is from Taiwan, jumped from 31st in the money standings all the way up to a close sixth ($24,187) with her $15,000 win last week at the Credit Union Challenge in Albany, N.Y.
Kaufman is just a rookie and has only played in four tournaments since graduating from Texas Tech this spring, but in that short time she’s moved to nine on the money list ($22,785) with finishes of 10th, 16th, first (June 30 at the Island Resort Championship in Harris, Mich.) and 11th. Molinaro became the first rookie to win on tour this year with her victory on May 19 in Asheville, N.C. The native of Treviso, Italy, is 12th on the money list with $20,722.
Finally there’s Song, who may have the lowest money total of the eight winners ($19,859, 13th) but has experienced the most success at this level. She finished sixth in the Volvik Race for the Card in 2009, but decided to return to the developmental tour in 2010 and wound up third on the money list. But she couldn’t find success at the LPGA level the last two years and is now back on the Symetra Tour.
∎ The 2012 Northeast Delta Dental International came down to a playoff between Jenny Gleason and Esther Choe, with Gleason winning on the first hole. Choe wound up finishing first on the 2012 money list, Gleason was seventh and both have moved on to the LPGA this year.
∎ In addition to Clanton, there are six other golfers who are also LPGA Tour members that will be in the field this week – Marina Alex, Perrine Delacour, P.K. Kongkraphan, Alejandra Llaneza, Garrett Phillips and Hannah Yun.
∎ If you’re at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats game tonight you’ll get a sneak peak at three of the golfers, although they’ll be throwing a ball and not hitting it as Shannon Fish, Jordan Ontiveros and Aimee Neff will all be throwing out the first pitch.