HARRIS, Mich. — Starting in 2019, the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris, Mich. will serve as the official United States qualifier for The Evian Championship.
“We are truly honored to be distinguished in this way and welcome some of the best players in the world to our venue for a chance to make it into a LPGA major,” said Tony Mancilla, the General Manager for Island Resort Casino and Hotel. “Each year our team has worked to improve the event and this offers a sort of reward for the diligence and time they have invested in the Island Resort Championship to make it one of the best stops on the Symetra Tour.”
It will be the fourth straight year that a Symetra Tour event has provided players the opportunity to qualify for one of the five majors on the LPGA Tour schedule, with two spots up for grabs. The PHC Classic was the springboard in each of the last two seasons and in 2016 it was the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship.
The ninth annual Island Resort Championship will be contested from June 21-23, while The Evian Championship is set to follow a month later from July 25-28 in Evian-les-Bains, France.
In 2017, the field at the PHC Classic increased to 156 players to accommodate 12 additional LPGA Tour members vying for the final two spots in The Evian Championship. This will carryover to the Island Resort Championship, which will see a higher volume of competitors from it’s typical 144.
Along with adding to the field size, the tournament will also feature a purse of $200,000, the biggest in Island Resort Championship history.
“Connecting the Island Resort Championship to the highest stage of women’s professional golf is a testament to their devotion to growing the game and the Symetra Tour, further demonstrated by taking the prize money they award to another level,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “Sweetgrass Golf Club offers a pure test of one’s skills and will provide deserving competitors for The Evian Championship.”
Ally McDonald (Fulton, Mississippi) and Laura Gonzalez Escallon (La Hulpe, Belgium) finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship to qualify in 2016. Each went on to make the cut at The Evian Championship that year, with McDonald finishing tied for 30th at 1-under par and Gonzalez Escallon ending tied for 55th at 5-over par.
Last year, Brittany Marchand (Orangeville, Ontario) and Marion Ricordeau (Laon, France) were the top two finishers at the PHC Classic, although both failed to make the cut in The Evian Championship. This year, it was Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville, Virginia) and Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) who advanced.
“To have the opportunity to fight for a spot in a major was a great experience and I’m thankful that the Symetra Tour has established such a platform,” said Coughlin, who won the 2018 PHC Classic to punch her ticket as a LPGA Tour member. “I wouldn’t have played in The Evian Championship if it wasn’t for the qualifier, so I think it benefits all sides and gives a chance to those who continue to chase their dreams.”
ABOUT THE EVIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
The first and only golf Major in Continental Europe, The Evian Championship is the fifth Major in women’s golf alongside the ANA Inspiration, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open and Ricoh British Open. The 120 leading women players of the past 25 years have already played the course at the Evian Resort Golf Club, which was totally redesigned in 2013, making its own history and placing itself at the very highest level of world golf. In this magical setting between lake and mountains, The Evian Championship has succeeded in creating a Major unlike any other, offering the world’s golfing elite prize money which continues to grow significantly, to reach $3,850,00 in 2018. This prominence enables the tournament board to develop a sporting policy resolutely focused on young players around the Major.
ABOUT SYMETRA TOUR
The Symetra Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 38th competitive season in 2018. With the support of its umbrella partner Symetra, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. Since Symetra’s inaugural sponsorship year in 2012, the Symetra Tour has grown from 16 tournaments and $1.7M in prize money to $3M in prize money awarded over the course of 22 tournaments. With more than 600 alumnae moving on to the LPGA, former Symetra Tour players have won a total of 427 LPGA titles. Follow the Symetra Tour on the web at www.SymetraTour.com, Facebook.com/RoadtotheLPGA, Twitter.com/Road2LPGA, and YouTube.com/Road2LPGA.
Symetra Life Insurance Company is a subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corporation, a diversified financial services company based in Bellevue, Washington. In business since 1957, Symetra provides employee benefits, annuities and life insurance through a national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions and independent agents and advisors.
Symetra began its partnership with the Road to the LPGA in 2010 as the title sponsor of the Symetra Classic. It secured naming rights for the Symetra Tour in November 2011. In addition to its title sponsorship of the Tour, which runs through 2021, Symetra sponsors two events on the tournament schedule—the Symetra Classic and the season-ending Symetra Tour Championship. For more information about Symetra, visit www.symetra.com.