Every time the Symetra Tour comes to town, area golf fans get the unique opportunity to watch the next rising stars on the LPGA Tour.
This year’s local stop, set for Friday through Sunday at Capital Hills at Albany, has a new name, the Fuccillo Kia Championship. We all know that means the event will be HUGE.
But in all fairness, the former Futures Tour was always a big-time feeder system, where local standouts like Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz jump-started their professional careers.
Pepper, a Saratoga Springs native who won 17 times on the LPGA Tour and became a perennial stalwart for the U.S. team at the Solheim Cup, eventually becoming assistant captain, is now a color analyst and author. Diaz, a Scotia native who won twice on the LPGA Tour, is still competing. She was also a Solheim Cup assistant captain, along with Pepper.
Other familiar names, like LPGA veteran stars Karrie Webb and Laura Davies, also honed their crafts on the Symetra Tour, as did current majors whiz Inbee Park. In all, former Symetra competitors have piled up 359 LPGA titles, including 38 majors.
The Capital Region has hosted a Symetra Tour event almost every year since 1984. This will be the 12th straight season that the “Road to the LPGA” has appeared locally. Other host venues include Town of Colonie, Western Turnpike and Orchard Creek.
The top-10 players on this year’s Symetra Tour money list earn their LPGA Tour cards for next season. This year’s current top 10 includes Giulia Molinaro ($41,358), Daniela Iacobelli ($40,597), Haruka Morita-WayaoLu ($40,493), Lee Lopez ($40,478), Alejandra Llaneza ($39,583), Rachel Rohanna ($37,281), Jimin Kang ($37,169), Augusta James ($36,671), Brianna Do ($35,231) and Casey Grice ($33,386).
For the first time in several years, two local players earned exemptions: University at Albany head women’s golf coach Colleen Cashman-McSween and Shaker High School’s Madison Braman.
As an added bonus, the winner of the Fuccillo Kia Championship receives a 2015 Kia Optima.
STATE AM TUESDAY
Can a local player finally win a State Amateur crown?
The 93rd New York State Men’s Amateur Championship will be contested Tuesday through Thursday at Kaluhyat Golf Club at the Turning Stone Resort. No Capital Region player has won since Jay Gunning, then playing out of Town of Colonie Golf Course, did it in 1986. Gunning also became one of the few local players to compete at the U.S. Open during the modern era after he became an assistant pro.
Local players comprise a large segment of the field, including Greg Bennett (Shaker Ridge CC), Cody Husek (Fox Run GC), Riley Olson (Hiland Park CC), Dan O’Donnell (Winding Brook CC), Corey Purcell (Shaker Ridge CC), Dennis Gosier (McGregor Links CC), Jimmy Welch (Olde Kinderhook GC), Edward Hart (Hales Mills CC) and Austin Teal (Schuyler Meadows Club).
Also in the field are Sean Morency (Glens Falls CC), Spencer Sautin (Mohawk Golf Club), Tanner Donovan (Wolferts Roost CC), Andrew Weise (Town of Colonie GC), Eric Dutcher (Olde Kinderhook) GC), Steve Quillinan Jr. (Burden Lake CC), Sean Puleo (Schuyler Meadows Club), Ryan Miller (Hiland GC), Robby Bigley Jr. (Pinehaven CC) and Dan Russo (Schuyler Meadows Club).
Turning Stone is just a short ride, so why not give our local contingent some support?
The Gazette’s 17th annual Capital Region Junior Newspaper in Education Golf Tournament, now a sanctioned event on the Northeastern New York PGA Junior Golf Tour, will be held July 31 at Schenectady Municipal. It’s open to non-NENYPGA juniors, as well. Age divisions by gender will be 8-12, 13-15 and 16-18. Entry fee is $50 for the 16-18 and 13-15 age divisions and $40 for the 8-12 age divisions. Tee times for the older divisions will be from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. The younger divisions will tee off between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. To register, go to the NENYPGA Web site or call 438-8645 for more information.
Jeb Buchanan of Loudonville, a left-handed professional who graduated from the University of Connecticut and has competed on numerous mini tours, won the prestigious New York State Open this week at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course. Buchanan, who was a member of both Schuyler Meadows and Wolferts Roost Country Club when he was an amateur, beat Brian Bartow, a fellow mini tour pro from Westchester, in a playoff with a four-foot par putt and earned a $17,500 check.
A.W. Tillinghast, who designed Wolferts Roost Country Club, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this week. The Roost is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Tillinghast also designed Baltusrol GC, Quaker Ridge CC and Winged Foot GC, among many other well known courses throughout the country.
The Peter Famiano Memorial Golf Tournament, which is part of the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame festivities in September, is already sold out. The tournament will be held Sept. 20 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau will host the 37th annual Rotterdam Sunrise Rotary Memorial Golf Tournament Aug. 11. Entry fee is $125 and includes breakfast, lunch at the turn, beverages all day, a one-hour open bar, and an awards buffet dinner. For information, call Steve Borst (857-5757), Jake Karp (470-0878) or Phil Tiberio (377-8000).
Airway Meadows will hold its 12th annual Benefit Tournament, to benefit Code Blue, a walk-in emergency homeless shelter in Saratoga Springs, on Aug. 15. Entry fee for the four-player scramble is $89 per player and includes a barbecue picnic. Call Airway Meadows at 792-4144 for more information.
Rolling Hills Country Club hosts the next Eastern New York Golf Association event on Wednesday.
Carl Leninger used a 7-iron to record a hole-in-one on the 163-yard 11th hole at Airway Meadows Golf Club.
Todd Williamson aced the 165-yard 15th hole at Stadium Golf Club with a 7-iron.
Also at Stadium, Dan Mullaney holed out with a 6-iron for his ace on the 161-yard eighth hole.
Don Zarecki recorded a hole-in-one on the 145-yard 16th hole with an 8-iron at Amsterdam Municipal.
Also at Amsterdam Municipal, Dennis Slechta hit a 7-wood for his hole-in-one on the 160-yard eighth hole.
Matt Campbell hit a 52-degree wedge for his hole-in-one on the 135-yard third hole at Saratoga Lake.
Robert Ceglarski holed out with a gap wedge from 95 yards for an eagle on the third hole at The Edison Club.
Linda Klimchak eagled the 17th hole at Briar Creek while competing in the GE Women’s league.
Frank Manell eagled the 13th hole at Eagle Crest while playing in the 300 league.
Brandon Roberts holed out with an 8-iron for an eagle on the first hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Also at Schenectady Municipal, Corey Barringer eagled the second hole.
Mike DeCarlo pitched in from 80 yards for an eagle on the par-4 fourth hole at Stadium while competing in the Cappy’s Body Works league.