No matter what happens during this summer’s Symetra Tour stop at Capital Hills at Albany, it is guaranteed to be “Huge.”
The Symetra Tour, formerly the Futures Tour, announced Wednesday that its second-oldest event will continue, thanks to Billy Fuccillo Sr., the mega car dealer known for his “Huge” slogan.
The tournament will be called the 2015 Fuccillo Kia Championship, sponsored by Fuccillo Kia of Schenectady. The 31st local edition of the “Road to the LPGA Tour” is set for July 24-26.
“Kia is committed to promoting women’s golf in the United States, most recently on the LPGA Tour at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., with former Symetra Tour member Cristie Kerr finishing first,” said Fuccillo in a press release. “Fuccillo Kia of Schenectady is proud to bring the Symetra Tour back to the Albany area while supporting the young women on the tour as they pursue their dreams.”
Local tournament chairman Jim Miller said the Capital Region was very close to losing this premier golf event. It was not on the original Symetra Tour schedule.
“It was definitely in jeopardy,” said Miller. “I questioned coming back myself after running it for 11 years. It was a lot of work, especially when it comes to getting title sponsors every year.
“I can’t say enough about Billy stepping up for us. He’s one of the most recognized brands in this area. Not only that, but he’s providing financial support, and what he’ll bring along in marketing will be fantastic. He’ll film commercials with players, and things like that. If he gets behind a cause or an event, the free marketing that comes along with it is something you can’t put a value on.”
The Symetra Tour has been the springboard for hundreds of players on the LPGA Tour, including Saratoga Springs native Dottie Pepper and Scotia native Laura Diaz.
Miller said he almost got Fuccillo involved a few years ago.
“We talked to him five or six years ago, but it didn’t work out. Thankfully, our former mayor [longtime Albany mayor Gerald Jennings] got in touch with Fuccillo. He didn’t want to see this tournament end. Mayor Jennings was a very big supporter of golf in general, and especially the Symetra Tour.”
Miller said the local stop has always been one of the best on the Symetra Tour.
“We’ve only had maybe one gap in the last 32 years, as far as not having a tournament locally,” he said. “We are the second-longest local tournament on their schedule.
“We always felt that once the tournament moved to Capital Hills at Albany, the financial footing was always solid. That’s because we have people here who are involved in the game of golf. Previously, charity organizations ran the local part of the tournament.
“A charity is a big part of supporting golf, but it’s not the priority for the tour,” Miller said. “The priority of the Symetra Tour is putting on the best event they possibly can. Hopefully, you get sponsors who realize that.”
The Fuccillo Kia Championship rounds out the 2015 Symetra Tour, which includes 23 events, the most since 1988. The complete schedule has a total purse of $2.73 million.
The local stop will feature 144 players with a total purse of $100,000 and a top prize of 15,000.
“Albany has always been a supportive city for women’s professional golf, and we’re thrilled that Fuccillo Kia has stepped up to keep the Symetra Tour event alive and that Kia has expanded its partnership with the LPGA as the official car to the Symetra Tour,” said Mike Nicols, chief business officer of the Symetra Tour.
“Twelve conscutive years in any city is quite an accomplishment, and I hope that golf fans will continue to support the next wave of LPGA stars at Capital Hills. We are happy to welcome Fuccillo automotive group and longtime LPGA official automotive partner, Kia, to the Symetra Tour family.”
In last year’s stop at Capital Hills at Albany, Sadena Parks tied the course record with a nine-under-par 62 to come from behind and win her first career event. She finished fourth on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and is currently playing full-time on the LPGA Tour.
Town of Colonie Golf Course, Western Turnpike and Orchard Creek are the other local golf facilities that have hosted Futures Tour and Symetra Tour events.
“We are pleased to bring the Symetra Tour back to the Albany area and to Capital Hills for the 12th year,” said Miller. “The Capital Region has been a host of a tournament for over 30 years, and has seen some of the most successful LPGA players come through and compete in the area.”