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Florida’s Natural Charity Classic Tees Off This Week

Posted on April 4th, 2016 by

Categories: Golf

The Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, returns to action after a five-week hiatus with the 8th annual Florida’s Natural Charity Classic at Lake Wales Country Club from Friday, April 8 through Sunday, April 10. The field of 156 players will compete for a total purse of $175,000, the largest in tournament history. The winner will earn $26,250 and likely move into the top spot on the Volvik Race for the Card money list.

Play will begin at 7:30 a.m. all three days of the tournament. There will be a cut to the top 60 and ties following Saturday’s second round. The expected finish time on Sunday is approximately 5:00 p.m.

The Florida’s Natural Charity Classic begins a three-week Florida swing for the Symetra Tour. The Tour heads to Fort Myers for the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial April 14-17 and closes the stretch in Sarasota with the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay April 22-24. With no scheduled events in March, the Tour will play eight of the next nine weeks.

 

Sue Kim Wins 2015 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic
Sue Kim Wins 2015 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic

The strong field of 156 includes 140 Symetra Tour members, 12 from the LPGA of Taiwan (TLPGA) and four exemptions. Highlighting the field are 30 LPGA Tour members, one top 100 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings (No. 98, Ssu Chia Chang) and four golfers with ties to the area (Kendall Griffin – Sebring, Erica Popson – Davenport, Jackie Stoelting – Florida Southern College and Abbey Williams – Florida Southern College). The 12 players from the TLPGA will also play in the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial next week and then head to San Francisco to compete on the LPGA in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic April 21-24.

There are also three players in the field that would qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games if they started today – Stephanie Meadow (No. 48, Northern Ireland), Liv Cheng (No. 56, New Zealand) and Paz Echeverria (No. 59, Chile). The number in the parenthesis is the player’s International Golf Federation ranking. The top 60 on July 11 will qualify.

Interestingly enough, there are four past champions in the field. Sue Kim (Langley, British Columbia) won in 2015, Megan McChrystal (Stuart, Florida) won in 2013, Tzu-Chi Lin (Taichung, Taiwan) won in 2011 and Jean Reynolds (Newnan, Georgia) won in 2009. All four will try for their second Florida’s Natural Charity Classic trophy this week.

Proceeds from the 2016 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic will once again benefit the Florida’s Natural Growers Foundation. Over the last seven years, the tournament has raised over a million dollars for the Florida’s Natural Growers Foundation, which distributes grants to local charities.

LOCALS GRIFFIN, POPSON AND TWO FLORIDA SOUTHERN MOCS HEADLINE FIELD

Kendall Griffin (Sebring, Florida) knows she has the opportunity of a lifetime this week to compete against professionals. The No. 64 ranked junior according to Golfweek has already committed to play college golf at LSU and could be on her way to a career after college.

Griffin has already accumulated an impressive amateur career. In May of 2015, she won the inaugural U.S Women’s Four-Ball with fellow local Athena Yang defeating USC commits Robynn Ree and Hannah O’Sullivan, who won the 2015 Symetra Tour season opener.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity and will remember this for the rest of my life,” said Griffin, who has placed in the top five in the FHSAA Class 2A Florida State Championship each of the last three years. “I’m looking forward to seeing girls I’ve played against like Nelly Korda and just learning from all the professionals.”

Popson was a star at Ridge Community High School where she was a four-time individual state qualifier and two-time Polk County Player of the Year. Popson went onto to win eight times in college at Tennessee. She made 22 starts on the Symetra Tour in 2015 with one top 10 finish. She missed the cut at the 2015 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic (75-81).

Abbey Williams is a sophomore at Florida Southern College and is playing on a sponsor’s exemption. Williams has two top 10 finishes this season and has the lowest scoring average on the team. Jackie Stoelting played at Florida Southern College from 2004-2008 and was a two-time All-American. Stoelting won twice on the Symetra Tour in 2015 and finished T2 at the 2014 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.

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