Volvik Race for the Card Concludes with 10 Earning LPGA Tour Cards
The Volvik Race for the Card on the Symetra Tour Concludes with 10 Players Earning LPGA Tour Cards
Volvik Staff Player Casey Grice Fulfills Lifelong Dream, Finishes 9th
Following the Symetra Tour Championship held at LPGA International golf club Sunday, the Top 10 Symetra Tour players on the money list were awarded full status on the 2016 LPGA Tour in the Volvik Race for the Card ceremony.
The Symetra Tour is the official developmental golf tour of the LPGA Tour and awards 10 LPGA Tour cards to the top finishing players on the Symetra Tour. Volvik is the official golf ball of the Symetra Tour and the sponsor for the Volvik Race for the Card.
The Volvik Race for the Card came down to the wire in Daytona with only two of the 10 spots being a lock headed into the Symetra Tour Championship. Twenty players had a shot at earning one of the remaining eight spots that were not previously secured.
Volvik staff player Casey Grice finished 9th in the Volvik Race for the Card, the 4th Volvik staff player to graduate from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA Tour since 2012. Grice is 24-years-old University of North Carolina alumna who is from College Station, Texas.
The other Volvik players to earn their LPGA Tour cards through the Volvik Race for the Card process are Mi Hynag Lee, Victoria Elizabeth and Christine Song. Grice also was presented with the Heather Wilbur Spirit Award as voted on by her peers after the conclusion of the Symetra Tour Championship.
“It’s huge,” said Grice. “It’s a dream come true. Since I started playing golf the LPGA is what I’ve been shooting for and so to now know I have my card secured for 2016 there’s really no words right now.”’
The Volvik Race for the Card ceremony was emceed by the Golf Channel’s Damon Hack and featured an award presentation by 72-time LPGA Tour winner Annika Sorenstam. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan provided an impassioned speech and presented the tour cards to the tour players with Volvik INC CEO Kyung Ahn Moon. Symetra Tour Chief Business Officer Mike Nichols made the exciting announcement that Symetra has extended their title sponsorship through 2021.
The Bellevue, Washington-based life insurance company will continue its role as the umbrella sponsor of the Symetra Tour for four additional years and also announced a purse subsidy program projected to increase average event purses by 25% in 2016. Symetra began its partnership with the Road to the LPGA in 2010 as the title sponsor of the Symetra Classic. The company then secured naming rights for the Symetra Tour in November 2011. Formally known as the LPGA Futures Tour, the Symetra Tour has served as the LPGA’s official developmental tour since 1999.
The top 10 finishers on the Symetra Tour’s Volvik Race for the Card money list will play full-time on the LPGA Tour through category nine on the LPGA priority list. The big move up the leaderboard on Sunday came from Brianna Do, who closed at 13-under for the weekend and solo second for the second consecutive week. Do jumped from No. 12 to No. 3 on the final money list. Two weeks ago, Do was 18th on the money list and used back-to-back second place finishes to earn her card. She was 22-under over the last seven rounds to earn her card. Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong won the Symetra Tour Championship with a 5-under 67. It was her first career win on U.S. soil.
The ceremony featured a huge Volvik Race for the Card logo made entirely out of Volvik golf balls and featured banners of LPGA Tour players who earned their way to the LPGA Tour via the Symetra Tour. With more than 500 alumnae moving on to the LPGA, former Symetra Tour players have won a total of 371 LPGA titles, including 40 major championships. After the ceremony, the Top 10 players followed the tradition of jumping into the pool at LPGA International.
A Closer Look at the 10 New LPGA Tour Players:
1. Annie Park - Levittown, New York, University of Southern California, 20-years-old, $68,673 Park came onto the scene in mid-June after finishing her junior season at USC. She finished T19 at her first professional event (Four Winds Invitational). One month later, she won her first professional event at the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic, holding off a late surge by Vicky Hurst. Two weeks later, Park proved that her first win was far from a fluke as she captured the PHC Classic in a playoff over Lee Lopez. In early September, Park won the Prairie Band Casino & Resort Charity Classic. Park is the only player in the top 10 that played in fewer than 15 events. Park on Earning her LPGA Tour Card “It means a lot to earn my card. It has been a lifelong dream to play on Tour and to finally get status is unbelievable. I still can’t believe that I got my card, but I’m going to have to believe it next year.”
2. Giulia Molinaro - Treviso, Italy, Arizona State University, 25-years-old, $68,673 Molinaro graduated from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA in 2013. After struggling on the LPGA in 2014, she decided to return to the Symetra Tour to try and earn full exempt status again. Molinaro flourished right away with a third place finish at the Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club. She had a tie for second and a tie for sixth at the third and fourth events of the year and went onto record nine total top 10 finishes. She finished third on Tour in scoring average and had a stretch with five straight top-5 finishes between mid-June and mid-July. Molinaro has made 23 career LPGA Tour starts. Molinaro on Earning her LPGA Tour Card: “It’s a honor to be back on the LPGA and having the opportunity to be back with the best in the world. The Symetra Tour has given me the perfect platform to improve and grow in my golf game.”
3. Brianna Do - Lakewood, California, UCLA, 25-years-old, $64,877 Do saved her best for last closing the season with a solo second at the Symetra Tour Championship after a runner-up showing at the penultimate IOA Golf Classic. Do also added four more top-10s on her season including a runner-up showing at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial. Do on earning her LPGA Tour card: “I’m overwhelmed with all kinds of different emotions. I’m excited. I’m relieved. It’s just a crazy moment right now and I’m trying to soak it in.”
4. Daniela Iacobelli - Melbourne, Florida, Florida Institute of Technology, 27-years-old, $62,692 The turning point of Iacobelli’s season was when she won the inaugural Tullymore Classic in early July. In her next two starts she finished T14 and T7. In mid-August, Iacobelli finished fourth to put her firmly in the top 10. After stumbling with two missed cuts in the Midwest that put her LPGA hopes in jeopardy, Iacobelli closed with a T3 finish in Arkansas, a T6 finish in Longwood and a T14 finish in Daytona to easily earn her Tour card for 2016. This is the second time Iaocbelli has earned her card through the Symetra Tour. She won the 2012 Daytona Beach Invitational to move from 22nd to fifth. Iacobelli made 15 starts on the LPGA Tour in 2013 with her best finish coming at the RR Donnelley Founds Cup, a tie for 29th. Iacobelli on Earning her Tour Card: “It’s a good feeling to finish what I set out to do in the beginning of the year. That was my main goal starting the year back out in Arizona. That seems like years ago really but it’s a good feeling to know that all of the hard work came through this year.
5. Dani Holmqvist – Stockholm, Sweden, University of California (Berkeley), 27-years-old, $62,160 Holmqvist began her march towards the top-10 with a victory at the Island Resort Championship and entered the Midwest Swing at No. 17 on the money list. She then caught fire by finishing second at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge to move to fifth and then finished in a tie for sixth at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort Charity Classic and a tie for fourth at the Garden City Charity Classic before a T8 at the IOA Golf Classic all but locked up her spot in the final top-10. Holmqvist on earning her LPGA Tour card: “It means a lot. I played some events last year on conditional status but it felt like it wasn’t for real. This time I’m really excited.
6. Lee Lopez - Whittier, California, UCLA, 25-years-old, $61,731 Lopez was one of the most consistent players on Tour. Although she did not win an event, she posted nine top 10 finishes and 13 top 20’s. Lopez started the year on fire. She finished in the top five in four of the first five events and never looked back. She nearly won the Volvik Championship (lost in playoff) and the PHC Classic (lost in playoff). Lopez qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and made the cut. She also made an ace in the third round that was the top play on Sportscenter’s Top 10. Lopez ranked fifth on Tour in scoring average. Lopez on earning her LPGA Tour Card: “The ultimate goal was to get my card, a lot of people asked me if it bothered me not to win, but there are a lot of girls that won that won’t get a card. My goal was to keep getting better and stronger and let the results take care of themselves and I think they did. I don’t think it’s sunk in just yet but it’s definitely a dream come true. I remember watching Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam compete at the Kraft Nabisco when I was 14-years-old and to know that I’ll get a shot to do what they were able to do for so many years is exciting. I can’t wait.”
7. Alejandra Llaneza – Mexico City, Mexico, University of Arizona, 27-years-old, $61,289 Llaneza earned a victory in the sixth event of the year, the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic, to climb into the top-10 and didn’t look back en route to earning her 2016 LPGA Tour Card. The Arizona grad was one of the most consistent players on Tour as she made 17 of 19 cuts adding five additional top-10 finishes including a T8 at the Symetra Tour Championship. Llaneza on earning her LPGA Tour card: “It means a lot. I’m really excited and I can’t wait for what this new opportunity is going to bring. I’m really excited.”
8. Vicky Hurst – Melbourne, Florida, 25-years-old, $57,814 Hurst had a slow start to the 2015 Symetra Tour season before exploding in mid-July. Hurst’s run started with a runner-up showing at the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic and marked a seven event stretch where she didn’t finish outside of the top-14. The strong stretch of play was highlighted by a pair of victories at the W.B. Mason Championship and the Garden City Charity Classic. The wins were the fifth and sixth of her career on the Symetra Tour. Hurst on earning her LPGA Tour card: “It feels really great to be back on Tour. I worked really hard through the injury and the ups-and-downs of golf. It’s a relief to be back on Tour. I’ve got my game back and I’m looking forward to keep improving for next year.”
9. Casey Grice - College Station, Texas, University of North Carolina, 24-years-old, $55,621 Grice posted nine top 10 finishes throughout the season including four during the Midwest Swing towards the end of the season. Her best was a solo second at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic. In just her second season, Grice led the Tour in total birdies and total eagles. Grice earned conditional LPGA Tour status at LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2014 when she finished T21. Grice on earning her LPGA Tour card: “It’s huge. It’s a dream come true. Since I started playing golf the LPGA is what I’ve been shooting for and so to now know I have my card secured for 2016 there’s really no words right now.”’
10. Rachel Rohanna – Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, 24-years-old, $53,867 Rohanna captured the first victory of her career at the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay to ignite her run towards her 2016 LPGA Tour Card. The Pennsylvania native added five additional top-10 finishes including a third at the Symetra Classic and a T4 at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge. She finished $284 in front of Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu. Rohanna on earning her LPGA Tour card: “I’m really happy with how I played this year but I know there’s a lot that I have to work on for next year and I’m just looking forward to competing at the highest level.”