MEET THE 2018 SYMETRA TOUR GRADUATES, INCLUDING ILLINOIS’ ELIZABETH SZOKOL

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Symetra Tour annually awards LPGA Tour membership to the top players on the season-ending Volvik Race for the Card money list and the conclusion of the Symetra Tour Championship ushers in the 2018 graduating class.

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 147 players have graduated to the big stage, including the top-10 from this season.

Meet the 2018 Symetra Tour graduates!

  1. Ruixin Liu (Dalian, China) – $124,839

Thanks to her third win of the year in the season-ending Symetra Tour Championship, Ruixin Liu climbed to the No. 1 position and earned Symetra Tour Player of the Year honors. She previously won the Island Resort Championship in June and IOA Golf Classic in September.

In her second season on Tour, Liu finished with 11 top-20 finishes and was fifth in par-3 scoring average (2.942).

Liu on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “Earning a card for 2019 is a fresh start and new experience for me. It is also affirmation of my work in the past few years. I am super excited to compete with the best female golfers in the world, eager to learn from them and improve my game at a higher level of competition.”

  1. Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) – $97,822

Dottie Ardina finds herself at No. 2 even though she did not step into the winner’s circle once this year. Instead, Ardina collected 11 top-25 results, including five runner-up finishes. She also earned the Symetra Swift Award for being No. 1 in the Volvik Race for the Card at the halfway point of the season.

Her consistency shined bright in several statistical categories as well, including scoring average where Ardina ended second on Tour at 70.098.

Ardina on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “I’m looking forward to playing a full schedule. It’s easier to know I am guaranteed a certain amount of tournaments than having to qualify. In golf, it is all about making good decisions and committing to them. Knowing I made a great decision in the middle of the year to stay on the Symetra Tour feels great.”

  1. Pavarisa Yoktuan (Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand) – $80,313

On 13 occasions this year, Pavarisa Yoktuan finished in the top-20 on the leaderboard and that includes seven top-10 results. She now makes it back to the LPGA Tour after competing on the big stage for the 2017 season.

Furthermore, Yoktuan was fifth on Tour with a 70.429 scoring average and in sub-par rounds at 61 percent (30 of her 49 rounds played were under par).

Yoktuan on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “It has been a long journey and I’m very happy that I got my full card again. The Symetra Tour has really helped me a lot to improve my game and prepare me for the LPGA. Hopefully I’ll do well next year, and the following years as well.”

  1. Elizabeth Szokol (Winnetka, Illinois) – $76,612

A second-year professional, Elizabeth Szokol became a first-time winner in May at the IOA Invitational. It helped lead her to a total of 10 top-20 finishes.

Also a key contributor was Szokol’s length off the tee. She was fifth on Tour in par-5 scoring average (4.703) and sixth in average driving distance (278.048 yards).

Szokol on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “It means the world to me to now have earned full-time LPGA status. Due to injury, I started this year not knowing when I could begin my season. To be able to earn my card nine months after surgery is an amazing feeling. I can’t wait to continue this journey on the LPGA and am so grateful for my support system through it all.”

  1. Linnea Ström (Hovas, Sweden) – $70,685

After leaving Arizona State University with a year-and-a-half of eligibility remaining, Linnea Ström showcased why she made the tough decision to turn professional. In her rookie campaign, she had 10 top-20 finishes and won the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge in September.

Prior to departing Tempe, Ariz., Ström led the Sun Devils to the program’s eighth NCAA Division I National Championship in 2017, sealing victory in the semifinals against Stanford and the title match versus Northwestern. This year, she ended the season second on Tour in sub-par holes (219) and was fourth in average driving distance at 280.462 yards.

Ström on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “I’m very proud of myself and how I handled all the new things this year. LPGA has always been a dream for me and I couldn’t be more excited to get out there and compete with the best players. I’ve been working hard and stayed patient all year. I’m going to continue that next season as well. I wouldn’t be here without my swing coach Ola Lindgren, the Swedish golf team and my family.”

  1. Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) – $70,617

A former four-time First Team All American for the University of Alabama, Stephanie Meadow was first on Tour in sub-par holes (221) and birdies (217). Her strong play is further exemplified by 13 top-25 results, which includes a win at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in April.

Meanwhile, in her professional debut at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, Meadow finished solo third. She’ll look to regain that magic in her second stint on the highest level of women’s professional golf.

Meadow on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “Playing on the LPGA has always been my dream and to make it back there is amazing. I’m ready to put what I have learned this past year on the Symetra Tour to the test against the world’s best. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

  1. Kendall Dye (Edmond, Oklahoma) – $63,579

Five top-10 results featuring two victories in only 13 Symetra Tour starts was enough for Kendall Dye to earn her spot among the 2018 graduating class. Her wins came at the Fuccillo Kia Classic of NY in July and Guardian Championship in September. Dye was also a Symetra Tour graduate back in 2014.

Overall, the University of Oklahoma alumna has four career Symetra Tour wins and 28 career top-10 finishes, with greater than $245,000 in career earnings.

Dye on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “Earning my 2019 LPGA card is my little girl’s dream come true. I’m so blessed to have so many people help me attain this major career goal. I have always said ‘Lord, if it’s your will, let it happen. If it’s what you want for me, let it happen. I’ll be okay with whatever you want for me.’ I guess He wants me to continue living my lifelong dream of playing on the LPGA Tour full-time.”

  1. Charlotte Thomas (Guildford, England) – $60,952

Charlotte Thomas helped the University of Washington win its first NCAA Division I National Championship in 2016 and helped herself secure a LPGA Tour card for 2019 with 10 top-20 finishes in her second year on the Symetra Tour. The season-best result for Thomas was solo second at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge.

One can find Thomas ranked third on Tour in sub-par holes (215) and fourth in birdies (208).

Thomas on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “I feel like it’s still pretty surreal, but it is a dream come true. I’ve thought about playing on the LPGA since I was in high school and the fact that it is finally happening is unbelievable. It’s going to be incredible to compete side-by-side with the best in the world week in and week out to see how my game matches up.”

  1. Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany) – $60,386

She became a first-time winner on the Symetra Tour this year at the 34th annual Forsyth Classic and Isi Gabsa also added eight other top-25 results to her résumé. A past graduate and two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series, Gabsa now earns her LPGA card through the Symetra Tour.

Furthermore, she is a former member of Germany’s Olympic National Team.

Gabsa on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “It really means the world to me. It is a dream come true to graduate to the LPGA Tour. I can’t wait to get out there and compete.”

  1. Dana Finkelstein (Chandler, Arizona) – $60,168

Two runner-up finishes and a total of 11 top-20 performances landed Dana Finkelstein at the final spot in the Volvik Race for the Card top-10. She heads back to the LPGA Tour where she ranked first in driving accuracy in 2017.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) alumna had the best par-3 average (2.892) on Tour this season and ranked third in driving accuracy at 84.9 percent.

Finkelstein on earning 2019 LPGA Tour card: “It means so much to me getting back to the LPGA for the 2019 season. Having played on the LPGA in 2017, I feel more prepared this time around and I am excited to see what is in store for next year. I’m ready to test my game with the best in the world again.”

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About Author

Glen Turk is a Wisconsin native who has been the Senior Writer/Editor of Midwest Golfing Magazine since 2006. Besides being an avid golfer, Glen enjoys traveling, music, and cheering on the finest professional sports team of all-time, the Green Bay Packers. Glen’s ultimate golf goal is to play in all fifty states and currently he is more than half way there. His other dream, albeit far-fetched, it to record an ace in all seven states of our distribution area. Thanks to an ace in Illinois in 2015, and one in Michigan in 2016, he has three down, four to go!

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