DAVIDSON, N.C. — A total of 144 players will take on the challenge that River Run Country Club presents starting Wednesday with the first round of the eighth annual Epson Classic.
Three featured groups highlight the competition for the seventh event of the 2019 Epson Tour season.
Lori Beth Adams, Leona Maguire, Allison Emrey (No. 1 tee, 1:36 p.m.)
This trio is led by Lori Beth Adams (Burlington, North Carolina), not only back in her home state but also where she starred collegiately at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Golfer of the Year for the Seahawks was also selected as the 2015 Carolina Golf Association Player of the Year. She has six top-10 finishes in 38 career starts on the Epson Tour.
Next up is Leona Maguire (County Cavan, Ireland), a Duke University graduate and first-time Epson Tour champion in 2019 at the Windsor Golf Classic. A two-time ANNIKA National Player of the Year for the Blue Devils, Maguire has five top-25s this season including four straight top-five finishes. She returns to the region where she executed one of the most storied collegiate careers in NCAA history.
Finally, Allison Emrey (Charlotte, North Carolina) tees it up this week at River Run Country Club just 20 miles down the road from her hometown. A Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) Honorable Mention All-American as a senior at Wake Forest University in 2015, she has played the weekend three times in six starts this year with a season-best tied for fifth result at the SKYiGOLF Championship.
Amy Boulden, Cydney Clanton, Madison Pressel (No. 10 tee, 1:25 p.m.)
Through her first five starts on the Epson Tour this season, Amy Boulden (Llandudno, Wales) has made five cuts and is coming off a career-best showing of tied for 13th in the IOA Invitational. Named the Ladies European Tour (LET) Rookie of the Year in 2014, she captured her first professional win that same year at the Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open on the LET Access Series.
Cydney Clanton (Concord, North Carolina) is a local favorite and currently No. 5 in the Volvik Race for the Card after a second top-five finish in her second competitive event of the year. She stepped into the winner’s circle for the second time in her Epson Tour career at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout last month. Clanton also leads the Tour in par-3 average (2.792) and par-5 average (4.417).
Joining this group is Madison Pressel (Boca Raton, Florida), who is currently playing perhaps the best golf of her career. A tied for second result at the IOA Invitational launched her 11 places in the Volvik Race for the Card to make her top-10 debut at No. 9. Pressel has not missed a cut in all six events and has three top-15 performances. She is also second on Tour with 69 birdies recorded in 2019.
Natalie Sheary, Katherine Perry, Stephanie Kono (No. 10 tee, 1:58 p.m.)
Wake Forest University alumna Natalie Sheary (New Britain, Connecticut) paves the way here with her top spot on the Epson Tour in driving accuracy (93.2 percent) and greens in regulation (87.0 percent). A past champion on the “Road to the LPGA” in the 2016 W.B. Mason Championship at Thorny Lea, Sheary captured a season-best finish of tied for 13th at the IOA Championship in late March.
The next piece to this featured group is Katherine Perry (Cary, North Carolina), another local favorite and a University of North Carolina alumna. She won the 2011 North Carolina Women’s Amateur and was runner-up in 2012. Furthermore, as a sophomore for the Tar Heels in 2012, Perry was named to the All-ACC team and a WGCA Honorable Mention All-American.
Stephanie Kono (Honolulu, Hawaii) is making her first start in a competitive event this year after ending the inaugural LPGA Q-Series last November in a tie for 39th. The UCLA alumna concluded 2018 with six top-15 performances, including her first career win at the Donald Ross Classic. A three-time WGCA First Team All-American for the Bruins, Kono looks to get back into a groove from right where she left off.