Jan 10, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Snow fell gently outside the clubhouse at Drumlins Country Club and lay on the ground, too, but already thoughts were turning toward summer, toward golf – and toward the latest edition of the Symetra Tour’s Credit Union Classic.
The 19th renewal of this tournament, third-oldest on the tour, brings more than 140 of the top women’s professional golfers to Central New York, and will be staged for the seventh consecutive year at Drumlins’ East Course.
One big difference in 2014 is the date. At last Friday’s press conference to promote the Credit Union Classic, it was announced that the 54-hole event will take place Aug. 1 through 3, a contrast to the late-July dates so common for most of the tournament’s history.
Tournament director Bill Motto said the slight schedule change accommodates the Symetra Tour’s larger 2014 schedule, whose Northeast swing, which includes stops in Albany and New Hampshire, concludes at Drumlins.
This marks the third straight year that a configuration of credit unions – Empower, Summit and SEFCU – serve as the event’s title sponsors, with Wegmans as a presenting sponsor.
“The tournament has taken great strides”, said tournament chairman Mike Vadala, pointing out that, in 2013, more than 60 local companies took on an active role in helping to promote the event through ticket sales and pro-am spots, a large increase from years past.
Still, Vadala said that “we will need to get the community involved now, so we can have the best event possible.”
Drumlins’ managing director, Doug Freeman, said that, while the contract for the tournament with his facility ran out after the 2013 event, they have renewed for at least this year and are working on securing a longer-term agreement.
Once again, tournament proceeds will benefit the First Tee of Syracuse, a youth golf program designed to teach both the game, and its values, to area children. As the organization’s executive director, Peter Webber, pointed out, more than 40 percent of the First Tee participants are girls, which makes the professionals role models to look up to.
Two of those professionals, Calle Neilsen (a third-year pro from Virginia) and Catherine O’Donnell (a second-year pro from North Carolina), were in town to help launch this year’s activities. Both said they considered Syracuse one of their favorite stops on the Symetra Tour and took full advantage of the social and dining options when they were in town last summer.
Together, the Future pros will conduct a Junior Clinic on July 31, the day before the tournament starts. Tournament week starts on July 28 with the annual Pro-Junior Challenge, where a Futures pro pairs with local high school golfers. In all, 16 schools participated in this event in 2013.
They will be hard-topped to match last year’s final-round drama.
Rain delayed the start of the final round, and when it did get underway, British professional Olivia Jordan-Higgins required a four-foot par putt on the final hole to finish at six-under-par 207 and win by one shot over P.K. Kongkraphan, just beating a ferocious downpour that likely would have delayed a playoff until the following day.
As in years past, pros are battling for both prize money and for a spot in the top 10 of the Symetra Tour money list. Whoever finishes there at season’s end will earn their LPGA Tour cards.
Two pro-am rounds will take place, on July 30 at 1:30 and July 31 at 8 a.m. Then the tournament tees off Aug. 1 at 7:30 a.m., with the 36-hole cut made after the second round on Aug. 2 and the final round taking place Aug. 3.