SANZ BARRIO HOPING TO DEFEND FIREKEEPERS CASINO HOTEL CHAMPIONSHIP CROWN
It was one of 18 Epson Tour starts for Marta Sanz Barrio (Madrid, Spain) in 2018, but the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship was undeniably the most memorable as the Auburn University alumna fired a 54-hole score of 13-under par to capture her maiden win as a professional on the “Road to the LPGA.”
Sanz Barrio was a three-time All-SEC Second Team selection for the Tigers and also named to the 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team. Furthermore, she won the 2014 Ingaro Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series and represented her native country at the 2018 Mediterranean Games where she led Spain to the team title and captured individual gold medalist honors.
“Being back in Battle Creek is great because I really enjoy the town and there are great vibes from my time in the area,” said Sanz Barrio, who heads off No. 1 tee tomorrow at 8:58 a.m. ET. “The memories from winning are really awesome and that creates a very positive atmosphere for me to compete. I love the course, while the tribe and casino do a great job making us feel extra welcome. It is a great feeling to be the defending champ and I hope to play my best to retain the title.”
FINAL LEG OF POTAWATOMI CUP TAKES CENTER STAGE
In its sixth consecutive year of competition, the Potawatomi Cup series in 2019 concludes with the sixth annual FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship from August 16-18 at Battle Creek Country Club in Battle Creek, Mich., the fourth and final Epson Tour event sponsored by Potawatomi nation tribes.
Perrine Delacour (Paris, France) currently leads the way with 572.5 points after winning the Four Winds Invitational and ending tied for eighth in the Island Resort Championship. Checking in at 555.5 and 553.7 points is Robynn Ree (Redondo Beach, California) and Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida) to round out the top-three.
“It would really be a great accomplishment to have a good finish in southwest Michigan and secure the Potawatomi Cup title,” said Delacour, who is also No. 1 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “There is plenty of motivation in leading the series with just one more tournament to play. We are all very thankful that the tribes provide this opportunity, especially the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi here in Battle Creek providing such great support and sponsorship.”
As well as the normal purse payout for each event, points and a total of $40,000 in bonus money is available to players based on performance including $6,000 to the winner of the Potawatomi Cup. First through fifth place in each of the four tournaments receive an added incentive on top of their share. The winner will take home an additional $3,000 and second place collects $2,500. Furthermore, third place earns $1,500, with amounts from there for the final two spots decreasing in increments of $500.
Past champions include (Seoul, Republic of Korea), (Levittown, N.Y.), (La Hulpe, Belgium), (Bangkok, Thailand) and (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) from 2014-2018, respectively. Schechter and Kwak are part of the field this week, as they continue the quest of trying to become the first two-time Potawatomi Cup winner in Tour history.
CHIEN IN FIELD AS PART OF AJGA EXEMPTION
For a third consecutive year, the Epson Tour and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) partnered together giving three AJGA Invitational winners exemption into select Epson Tour events and the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship is the third and final tournament for 2019.
In June, 13-year-old amateur (Irvine, California) walked away with a four-stroke victory at the fifth annual KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational. The performance sealed a spot in the 144-player field this week at Battle Creek Country Club.
“This is my first Epson Tour event and I am super excited to play alongside such talented players,” said Chien, currently No. 62 in the Rolex American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Rankings. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to compete in a professional tournament thanks to the relationship between AJGA and Epson Tour. This week I will just soak everything in and simply enjoy the moment. I don’t have any expectations other than wanting to play well and make the cut.”