July 7-9 – Donald Ross Centennial Classic at French Lick Resort
July 10-12 – Senior LPGA Championship (Pete Dye Course)
(FRENCH LICK, Indiana) - The Symetra Tour, the official qualifying Tour of the LPGA, rolls into French Lick for the inaugural Donald Ross Centennial Classic at French Lick Resort to begin six straight days of women’s golf. The Donald Ross Centennial Classic at French Lick Resort starts on Friday, July 7 and concludes on Sunday, July 9. It’s the perfect lead into the Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course from July 10-12, which will air live from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on Golf Channel all three days.
The Donald Ross Centennial Classic will feature 144 of the top rising stars in the game of women’s golf from the United States and 30 countries around the globe.
The players will battle for a $200,000 tournament purse, the second largest on Tour, and the winner will earn $30,000. This is a pivotal event as the winner’s payout could go a long way in determining who earns an LPGA Tour card for the 2018. The top 10 on the final Volvik Race for the Card money list earn LPGA Tour membership for the 2018 season.
The Donald Ross Centennial Classic is the 13th event of the 2017 season. There are now just ten events remaining. This is the second event in the state of Indiana. The Tour also plays the Four Winds Invitational in South Bend (June 9-11).
The field is strong as nine of the top 10 players on the current money list are in the field. In fact, 18 of the top 20 on the money list are in the field because of the large purse and the implications of a strong finish. The only players not scheduled to compete are No. 1 Nanna Koerstz Madsen, who is taking the week off to prepare for the U.S. Women’s Open, and No. 16 Rachel Rohanna, who is in the LPGA event this week.
The field also includes ten players with LPGA membership.
Additionally, there are two from the state of Indiana in the field - Carleigh Silvers of Martinsville and Julia Potter of Indianapolis. Silvers has played on the Symetra Tour since 2014. She was an All-Mid-State Conference selection all four years at Martinsville High School and finished fifth in the state as a senior.
The Donald Ross Course is a par-71 and will play 6,431 yards this week. There is just one par-5 on the back nine.
RECAP OF LAST WEEK: The Tour played in Canadian Lakes, Michigan (an hour from Grand Rapids) last week. Yu Liu (Beijing, China) captured the 3rd annual Tullymore Classic with a final-round 68 on Sunday to finish with a three-day score of 16-under, 200.
Liu made 22 birdies on the week and earned her first Symetra Tour victory to move from tenth to fifth on the new Volvik Race for the Card money list.
“It is amazing, the first win was really tough,” said Liu. “To have my friends out there supporting me on the last hole is definitely an experience that I will remember for life.”
Liu survived a bogey on the last to edge three players by one shot.
“This definitely helps not only from the ranking standpoint, but this is a big confidence booster for me knowing that I am capable of winning out here,” said Liu. “I’ve been close a couple of times, but I haven’t been able to get it done until now. Getting a win really differentiates the best players from the good players.”
Liu became the ninth first-time winner this season (in 12 tournaments). She is just the third player from China to win on the Symetra Tour.
The 21-year-old is the second former Duke golfer to win this season. Celine Boutier won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic earlier this season.
INDIANAPOLIS’ JULIA POTTER EARNS EXEMPTION: Julia Potter, a two-time Indiana Women’s Golf Association Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009, has earned an exemption to play in the Donald Ross Centennial Classic at French Lick Resort.
Potter went to Missouri to play college golf and starred for the Tigers where she recorded 21 top 10 finishes and five wins.
She played on the Symetra Tour (9 starts) in 2010, but has since received her amateur status back.
In 2016, Potter won her second U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur (must be 25 or older) in four years. She also won in 2013 and finished second in 2014.
Potter currently works full-time as the Director of Member Services at Indiana Golf.
RECENT LOUISVILLE GRAD IS ALSO EXEMPTION: Laura Restrepo (Panama City, Panama) graduated from the University of Louisville in 2016 and is a rookie on the Symetra Tour. She is the second exemption into the field.
Restrepo was an All-ACC performer in 2016 and finished with the sixth lowest scoring average in the conference. She tallied 16 career top 10 finishes for the Cardinals. She finished her final season with the second lowest scoring average in school history.
Restrepo has made two starts thus far on the Symetra Tour and has made the cut in one of them.
Sara-Maude Juneau, who played at Louisville from 2007-11, is also in the field. Juneau won the BIG EAST Championship as a junior in 2010. Juneau has 16 career top 10 finishes on the Symetra Tour
FORMER IU STAR ELIZABETH TONG IN FIELD: Elizabeth Tong (Toronto, Canada) played four years of college golf at Indiana and is in her second year as a Symetra Tour professional. She is off to a good start this season and ranks 46th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list in 11 starts. Although Tong is still chasing her first top 10, she has three top 20 results on the year.
As a senior at IU in 2014-15, she set a new single-season record for scoring average (73.64). She placed in the top 25 in seven of her ten tournaments that year and had four top 10’s.
“I am always excited to play in Indiana, especially only an hour away from IU,” said Tong, who took last week off to fully prepare for the Donald Ross Centennial Classic at French Lick Resort. “I think this event is super important just because of the size of the purse. It’s a challenging course and the purse is reflective of that.”
Although Tong hasn’t played in French Lick since 2015, she has quite a bit of experience on both the Donald Ross and Pete Dye courses.
“I have played French Lick many times,” said Tong. “We had Big Ten's twice and the Lady Northern Collegiate at the Ross course. My team would also go down to play the Ross and Dye course a lot for qualifying rounds to see who would make the traveling team.”
FORMER SPARTANS WON 2012, 2014 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS IN FRENCH LICK: There are three former Michigan State Spartans in the field - Lindsey McPherson, Christine Meier, Elizabeth Nagel - that won the Big Ten Championships in 2014, which were played at French Lick Resort on the Pete Dye Course. Nagel led the Spartans with a ninth place finish while Meier finished in 18th place.
Nagel and Meier were also part of the 2012 team that won Big Ten’s on the Donald Ross Course. Meier finished 3rd individually on the Donald Ross Course in 2013.
“The (Donald) Ross Course is my favorite,” said Meier. “I distinctly remember hole number eight being interesting. The course is awesome, it has tons of character.”
Elizabeth Szokol - who was playing at Northwestern (transferred to Virginia) in 2013 - finished T9. Szokol currently ranks 21st on the Volvik Race for the Card money list.
Laura Gonzalez Escallon, who won twice on the Symetra Tour in 2016 and now plays on the LPGA, won the 2012 Big Ten Championships on the Donald Ross course.
3-TIME KENTUCKY STATE CHAMP EMMA TALLEY EXPECTING BIG CROWDS: Emma Talley
(Princeton, Kentucky) is not famous nationally yet, but she sure is a big deal in her small town of Princeton, which is just two and half hours from French Lick.
There are three “Home of Emma Talley” signs in Princeton, and for good reason, as she won the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and the 2015 National Championship at Alabama.
Talley said that a large number of her friends, family members and supporters are making the trip to come watch her play this week.
“This is definitely my homecoming, which is super fun,” said Talley, who will have a family friend on her bag. “My dads family is from Southern Indiana so I will have a ton of support which I am really excited about.”
• Nine different countries are represented in the top 10 on the current Volvik Race for the Card money list (Denmark, Thailand, France, United States, China, Canada, Australia, Ecuador, Germany).
• Becca Huffer played college golf in the state at Notre Dame from 2008-2012.