SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A total of 144 players will take on the challenge that Blackthorn Golf Club presents starting Friday with the first round of the eighth annual Four Winds Invitational.
Three featured groups highlight the competition for the 10th event of the 2019 Epson Tour season.
Nuria Iturrioz, Esther Lee, Daniela Iacobelli (No. 1 tee, 8:14 a.m.)
Making her first start on the “Road to the LPGA” since capturing the largest winner’s share in Epson Tour history at the Zimmer Biomet Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez is Nuria Iturrioz (Mallorca, Spain). At No. 3, she is the highest-ranked player from the Volvik Race for the Card top-10 in the field this week. Iturrios has played the weekend in six of seven starts, never finishing outside the top-30.
Coming off a career-best result of solo second at the Valley Forge Invitational, Esther Lee (Los Alamitos, California) now has 12 top-25 performances in 21 career Epson Tour starts. A two-time All-Pac 12 First Team member for the University of Colorado, she left Boulder owning 25 program records including stroke average (73.03). Lee went tied for seventh last year in South Bend, Ind. at Blackthorn Golf Club.
Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida) was inducted into the Florida Institute of Technology Hall of Fame in 2014. She has made the cut in all seven events played this year, recording a season-best tied for ninth at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. A former Epson Tour graduate in 2012 and 2015, she is a two-time past champion (2012 Epson Tour Championship and 2015 Tullymore Classic) with 20 career top-10s.
Linnea Johansson, Stephanie Na, Perrine Delacour (No. 1 tee, 1:47 p.m.)
Leading this featured group is Linnea Johansson (Bastad, Sweden) in her third year on the Epson Tour. She took last week off after a solo fourth showing in Opelika, Ala., and is currently No. 17 in the Volvik Race for the Card. An Oklahoma State University alumna, Johansson was a three-time All-Big 12 Team performer and posted the second lowest stroke average (72.74) in Cowgirls history as a junior in 2016.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Na (Adelaide, Australia) is on a solid run as of late with three top-20s over her last five starts. That includes a season-best tied for second in the Epson Classic. Since her rookie year of 2010 on the Epson Tour, Na has made 78 career starts and captured 10 top-10 finishes. In addition, the 11-year professional was ranked the No. 1 amateur player in Australia in both 2007 and 2008.
Perrine Delacour (Paris, France) arrives in South Bend fresh off three straight top-five finishes. After missing the cut in her first two starts this season, she has played the weekend in all six starts since. Delacour is currently No. 4 in the Volvik Race for the Card, a place that is familiar having been a Epson Tour graduate in 2013. Entering the year, Delacour made a total of 68 career starts on the LPGA Tour.
Maia Schechter, Lindsey McCurdy, Alexa Pano (No. 1 tee, 12:52 p.m.)
The defending champion of the Four Winds Invitational is Maia Schechter (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) and she jumpstarts this trio. Her victory at Blackthorn Golf Club in 2018 was the first of her professional career. A final round 6-under par 66 propelled the University of North Carolina alumna to the title. So far in her 2019 campaign, Schechter owns a season-best of tied for sixth at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
Lindsey McCurdy (Liberty Hill, Texas) willplay in her first event since the Epson Classic after missing the last two weeks to E. coli infection. The Lonestar State native opened the year strong, making seven straight cuts with a season-best tied for ninth at Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. McCurdy was also the starting guard on Hays High School varsity basketball team and earned 2013 All-Central Texas honors.
Rounding out the featured group is amateur Alexa Pano (Lake Worth, Florida). The 14-year-old phenom is making her second appearance at the Four Winds Invitational as a tournament sponsor exemption, in search of another made cut after shooting 70-70-74 in 2018. Earlier this season, Pano was part of the SKYiGOLF Championship field where she finished tied for eighth and competed in Sunday’s final pairing.