Symetra Tour gives glimpse of LPGA’s future players

The next crop of super stars on the LPGA Tour is ready to move on up, and a preview of their talents
Madison Braman, a Shaker High School standout, will be playing in the Symetra Tour's Fuccillo Kia Championship starting Friday at Capital Hills.
Madison Braman, a Shaker High School standout, will be playing in the Symetra Tour's Fuccillo Kia Championship starting Friday at Capital Hills.

The next crop of super stars on the LPGA Tour is ready to move on up, and a preview of their talents is just a short drive away.

Capital Hills at Albany will host the Symetra Tour’s Fuccillo Kia Championship Friday through Sunday. The Symetra Tour, billed as “the Road to the LPGA,” is in its 36th season and has included a local stop almost every year. More than 600 Symetra Tour graduates have advanced to the LPGA Tour, and they’ve won 418 LPGA titles.

Current LPGA star Inbee Park started her career on the Symetra Tour, formerly known as the Futures Tour, and so did such well-known LPGA standouts as Saratoga Springs native Dottie Pepper, who won 17 LPGA titles, and Scotia native Laura Diaz, who won twice.

This year’s event will include 144 professionals competing for a total purse of $125,000. The winner earns $18,750.

Local tournament director Jim Miller is in his 13th season coordinating the area logistics of this premier golf event. He can’t believe the local Symetra Tour stop has continued to thrive despite economic challenges.

“In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Miller said. “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished all of these years. [Former Albany mayor] Jerry Jennings got me involved, and it’s been great. It hasn’t been easy, though. It’s all about the money and having corporate sponsorship behind you. Thankfully, Billy Fuccillo stepped up last year, and we’ve also had a lot of help from SEFCU. Our sponsors have been very supportive.”

Miller, an avid golfer himself, added that he had opportunities to take the tournament to another golf course but declined.

“Capital Hills is like a second home. I have a very strong loyalty to this place,” Miller said.

There are numerous interesting story lines this year, including the pro debut of Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky., who won the 2015 NCAA individual championship for Alabama as well as the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur. She is currently the 13th-ranked amateur in the world and became only the second four-time All-America in Alabama women’s golf history.

As usual, there are also several local ties. University at Albany women’s golf coach Colleen Cashman-McSween will be playing on a sponsor’s exemption once again. She competed in more than 100 pro tournaments as a member of the Symetra Tour. Madison Braman, a Shaker High School standout, is also getting another opportunity to play because of a sponsor’s exemption. She shot rounds of 80-77 and missed the cut last year.

Jackie Stoelting, a former Big Break champion on the Golf Channel’s popular reality series, also has area roots as her father went to Niskayuna and played on the golf team.

“Having two sponsor’s exemptions with local ties is great,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, I also got a call from Bailey Cocca. She just graduated [from Coastal Carolina] after having a great season there, and she wanted to come back and play here. I didn’t have another sponsor’s exemption, or I would have loved to have her play as well.”

Miller said the local committee is still looking for volunteers to help run the event. Anyone interested should contact Capital Hills. He added that there will be a special concert Friday night that will be open to anyone who has purchased a ticket to the golf tournament.

Tickets are $10 per day or $20 for a three-day ticket.


Entries are still being accepted for the Saratoga County Amateur Championship, set for June 17 at Eagle Crest Golf Club and June 18 at Ballston Spa Country Club. The 36-hole medal-play event is open to all Saratoga County residents. Entry fee is $75. Competition is available in the open or senior (50-plus) divisions. For more information, contact Eagle Crest head pro John Peterson (877-8789, ext. 229) or Ballston Spa Country Club head pro Todd Manderson (883-7935).

The afternoon shotgun squad for the 26th Annual ALS Memorial Open, set for June 29 at Van Patten Golf Course, is officially closed, but there are still openings for the 7 a.m. morning squad. There are also raffle tickets still available for a home entertainment system, courtesy of Towne TV & Audio. Call Luke Michaels (899-6311) or Scott Daly (339-091) for more information.

Local club pros will be competing in their most prestigious event of the season when the NENYPGA Stroke Play Championship is held Tuesday and Wednesday at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Mass. Five-time NENYPGA Player of the Year Scott Berliner, an assistant pro at Hiland Golf Club, will be the prohibitive favorite.

Fox Run Golf Club in Johnstown hosts the next Eastern New York Golf Association tournament on Wednesday. Tee times are from 7 a.m. until noon.

Local amateur women finally open up their season June 7 with the Northeastern Women’s Golf Association’s Two-Person Scramble at Winding Brook Country Club in Valatie.


At Mechanicville Golf Club, Ken Cook hit a gap wedge for an ace on the 105-yard 15th hole. It was his third career hole-in-one.

Chip Weeden registered a hole-in-one on the 145-yard fifth hole at Briar Creek.

Brian Mason made his second career hole-in-one on the 163-yard third hole at Pinehaven Country Club. He used a 7-iron.


Kevin O’Leary eagled the par-4 13th hole at Stadium Golf Club while playing in the Vern’s GT league.

Rad Anderson also collected an eagle on the par-4 fourth hole at Stadium while competing in the Berkshire Hathaway Randy Hines No. 2 league.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

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