Evian Championship Berths for Winner, Runner-Up on the Line at Ninth Annual Tournament
Escanaba, MI – The Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship returns to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Sweetgrass Golf Course at The Island Resort and Casino, June 21-23. This year’s event marks the ninth consecutive year Sweetgrass has been the event’s host venue and the first year that the winner and runner-up of the 54-hole stroke play tournament will earn an automatic exemption into the Evian Championship in France, one of the LPGA Tour’s five “Majors.”
With that huge incentive plus an increased purse of $200,000 (with $30,000 going the winner), fans can expect to see the Symetra’s top talent plus some eager exempt LPGA Tour players taking advantage of the expanded 156-player field size.
“It’s always great to be back at Sweetgrass and the Island Resort and Casino because we know we’re walking into a well-oiled machine,” said Tim Kramer director of tournament and business affairs for the Symetra Tour. “The Evian exemption shows how intertwined the LPGA Tour and the Symetra Tour are now. The opportunity to connect an event in the U.P. to one of the sport’s majors being played in Europe is exciting. Like the Island and Sweetgrass, we’re always aiming to raise the bar for this tournament.”
The week kicks off with the popular Symetra Tour Pro-Am on Wednesday June 19, giving sponsors a chance to play with Symetra contestants on the manicured Sweetgrass Golf Course, a 2008 links-style design crafted by Michigan course architect Paul Albanese. “On Sweetgrass, you have to be able to flight your ball to manage the wind and you have to learn these greens,” says Island Resort & Casino General Manager, Tony Mancilla. “These players don’t see a lot of prairie-style courses on this tour, but they have consistently told us this is one of the best golf courses they play all year.”
Last year, China’s Ruixin Liu finished 9-under with rounds of 68 – 70 – 69 to make this event one of her three Symetra Tour victories on her way earning her LPGA Tour card and 2018 Symetra Tour Player of the Year honors. South Korea’s Min Seo Kwak and former University of North Carolina-Wilmington golfer, Lori Beth Adams, both finished one shot back at -8 to close tied for second.
Among the players highlighting the field of LPGA hopefuls will be former Stanford standout and four-time Wisconsin state champion Casey Danielson, who finished tied for fourth at this event last year. Danielson played on the NCAA Championship-winning Stanford team in 2015.
The Sweetgrass course will be another “star” on display at this tournament. Golf course architect Paul Albanese pays homage to Tribal legend in Sweetgrass’ design features. The name, itself, refers to an aromatic herb, a sacred plant, used in Native American peace and healing rituals, and is found along the course. Masterfully-crafted rockwork and cedar posts are prevalent throughout the design, which also boasts an island green on No. 15 and a pair of breathtaking waterfalls which greet golfers as they walk up the 9th and 18th holes to an enormous, shared green. A Biarritz and a Redan green, and “rescued” bridges from around Michigan are other compelling components of the course.
“They’ll have to be on their short games to contend on this golf course,” says Director of Golf, Dave Douglas. “It’s a lot of fun watching this level of talent. They hit the ball a long way and their scoring averages on the Symetra Tour are typically only a stroke different from the LPGA on very-similar golf courses.”
Mancilla calls the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass the kickoff to golf season in the Upper Peninsula. “We have a great family atmosphere. All the food is $2 or less and we get a great crowd out here to watch some of the finest women golfers from around the world,” he adds.
For information on tickets, Pro-Am entry or staying on property during The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass, visit www.islandresortgolf.com
About Island Resort & Casino
Located in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula 13 miles west of Escanaba, Island Resort & Casino is one of the Midwest’s largest golf, casino and entertainment resort destinations. The resort features over 300 guest rooms including elegant suites and a 42 –site RV Park. The 408,520 square feet casino offers slots, a poker room, craps, blackjack, Spanish 21, three card poker, let-it-ride, roulette and bingo.
The resort amenities also include the luxurious Drift Spa offering a variety of high-end spa services with access to the resort’s saltwater pool, steam rooms and sauna. Multiple dining options include the signature 5 Bridges Steak and Seafood House, 5 Bridges Pub, Firekeeper’s Restaurant, T.McC’s Sports Bar, Coral Reef Grille, Signature Subs & Pizza, The Coffee & Bakery Shop, as well as The Custard Shop. The Island regularly hosts headline entertainment in the intimate 1,315 seat Showroom, as well as weekly bands and comedy entertainers in Club 41. The Island Convention Center provides the perfect venue for special events, business meetings and weddings.
Award-winning golf has become the centerpiece of the Island Resort & Casino. Sweetgrass, ranked among Golfweek’s Best Courses, as well as recognition by GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest as a Best in State ranking, features an open layout with some of the game’s most fun greens to putt (Redan, Biarritz, Island, and Double-green). The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass is part of the Symetra Tour – “Road to the LPGA” and the future of women’s golf. 2019 will be the first full season for Sage Run Golf Club, also designed by Paul Albanese (Sweetgrass) providing a different kind of golf experience where holes flow through the hardwoods and around a drumlin ridge. Golfers will find Sweetgrass and Sage Run are dramatically different, but equally exceptional.
For more information, visit www.islandresortandcasino.com.