SARASOTA, FLORIDA, April 20, 2017 - The Epson Tour, the official qualifying Tour of the LPGA, begins the sixth Sara Bay Classic on Friday, April 21 at 7:45 a.m. from the first and tenth tees.
The 54-hole tournament will feature 144 players competing for a $110,000 purse. The winner will earn $16,500 and move towards the top of the early Volvik Race for the Card money list. The top 10 on the final money list will earn LPGA Tour membership for the 2018 season.
The field includes the top rising stars from the United States and 28 different countries around the globe. Eight of the top 10 on the current Volvik Race for the Card money list are in the field this week including No. 1 Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand), who has finished in second place in two of her three starts. The field is also highlighted by 29 LPGA Tour members including Julieta Granada, who has one career LPGA win (2006 ADT Championship) and 28 top 10 finishes.
KASSIDY TEARE RECENTLY QUIT COACHING, MAINTAINING DESIGN JOB: Kassidy Teare (Vista, Calif.) has a tattoo on her left forearm that she stenciled and handed to a tattoo artist three years ago. Her lone - for now - yet significant tattoo reads “The Sky is the Limit”.
“It’s really important to me and I know it is cliché to a lot of people, but with my design work, I was obsessed with it for awhile and it just made a lot of sense to me personally. Through rough family years and college years and growing as a person, it is a constant reminder to look down and have belief in myself. It’s a constant reminder that I am capable of accomplishing things.”
This year, as a rookie on the Epson Tour, Teare is trying to accomplish two things that are very difficult: earning a spot in the top 10 and remaining financially independent.
She recently - March 31st - quit her full-time job as the assistant women’s golf coach at Long Beach State, where she was the 2016 Big West Golfer of the Year as a senior, to focus solely on competing on the Epson Tour and achieving the LPGA dream. With that comes the reality that her steady income is no longer arriving bi-weekly in her bank account.
It was time to move on though. Teare was commuting an hour and a half from San Diego to Long Beach to coach and although she had fun and misses the gig, she’s excited to focus on her playing career.
“It started to conflict (with my golf), my last team event was in South Carolina and then I had to fly straight to Beaumont (IOA Championship) and I got in at 3:00 a.m. before my practice round so it was hard,” continued Teare, who was juggling her rookie season and a full-time coaching job until last month. “I really learned a lot as a coach, preaching things to my players made me realize that sometimes I’m not listening to myself on the course.”
Without the full-time job, Teare is doing freelance design work for the marketing department at Long Beach State. On Wednesday in Sarasota, she stayed up to the wee hours of the night designing a marketing piece on the yearly student-athlete scholarship foundation called Jewels of the Night.
“I’ve always liked having a job and being financially responsible for myself,” said Teare, who tees at 9:02 a.m. on Friday. “Having a graphics job with my university allows me to give back and support myself at the same time.”
While at Long Beach State, Teare got a degree in design with an emphasis on industrial design. Although she didn’t do a lot of graphic design, it was an extension of her major.
“I was mostly interested in product designing and my senior year I got to do golf and product designing which was cool,” said Teare. “I liked designing buildings and doing environmental design too. Right now, I’m doing a lot of Photoshop work.”
“They (marketing department) know to give me a week’s deadline in case it is in the middle of an event and they are fully aware and supportive,” continued Teare. “They are happy to have an alum working for them. I really loved where I went to school.”
While she admits that it has been a difficult transition to “give up everything” and “not have a structured job”, she’s excited for the chance on the Epson Tour.
Teare is used to adjusting. She was a talented softball catcher for most of her childhood and didn’t switch to golf until her sophomore year of high school. She was recruited by Long Beach State and quickly became one of the top players in the Big West Conference. She was a three-time All-Big West standout.
“I really learned how to compete in college because I hadn’t really done big tournaments before,” explained Teare. “The only hiccup was wrist surgery my junior year, it really sucked to do all my design work with one hand.”
The runner up at the 2016 Big West Conference championship is fully healthy and coming off her best finish to date, a T39 at the POC Med Golf Classic.
Whether it’s an architectural drawing or a sketch, Teare said she always is drawing, even on the golf course while competing.
“I’m glad I picked a major that distracts me from golf,” said Teare. “It’s kind of like a meditation thing for me on the course.”
It’s also provides a source of income off the course and something she plans to continue to do while on Tour.
DARQUEA WON U.S. OPEN QUALIFIER IN BRADENTON: Top Epson Tour rookie Daniela Darquea (Quito, Ecuador) earned a spot in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open through the regional qualifier that was held at Bradenton Country Club.
“That was a Donald Ross course too,” said Darquea, who actually really likes the design at Sara Bay. “I really like this course because it makes you think and be responsible about each shot and distance. When I played at the University of Miami, we practiced at the Biltmore Golf Course, which is a Donald Ross course. The shots you have to hit are similar.”
Darquea is the top first-year player on the Epson Tour. She ranks third on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with a win at the IOA Championship.