SYRACUSE Ever since first coming to Central New York in 1996, the ladies professional golf event in Syracuse for up-and-coming players wishing to reach the LPGA Tour flew under the banner of the Futures Tour.
Now it is called the Symetra Tour, and the event this week at Drumlins Country Club’s East Course also has a new title – the Credit Union Classic, as a group of local credit unions have taken over main sponsorship, with Wegmans as a presenting sponsor.
However, the goal remains the same as 144 players vie for $100,000 of prize money, with $15,000 going to the winner. At season’s end, the top 10 money winners on the Symetra Tour earn their LPGA Tour cards.
That was certainly the case in the 2011 version of this event, when Kathleen Ekey parlayed a three-shot victory over Jenny Suh into finishing first overall on the Symetra Tour money list.
Thus, Ekey is not back to defend that title, but a strong field still is coming to Drumlins, and it’s led by Suh, whose track record in this tournament includes that runner-up finish and a victory in 2009. Lisa Ferrero, who tied for third a year ago, is also back.
In all, 27 players with LPGA status are entered, with the biggest names Laura Diaz and Moira Dunn. Diaz has won two LPGA tournaments and played in the Solheim Cup, the biennial match-play event between the United States and Europe (similar to the men’s Ryder Cup), four times. Dunn, a native of Utica, won an LPGA tournament in 2005.
Up to six tournament winners from 2012 are expected in the field, including Esther Choe, Megan McChrystal, Sara Brown, Lauren Doughtie, Kristie Smith and Jenny Gleason.
Choe, with two wins this season, had a chance for a “battlefield promotion” to the LPGA Tour with a third win, but was denied on Sunday when Gleason beat her in a playoff at the Northeast Delta Dental Invitational in New Hampshire. It was Gleason’s first Symetra Tour win since 2005.