FIRST LEG OF POTAWATOMI CUP TAKES CENTER STAGE
In its seventh consecutive year of competition, the Potawatomi Cup series in 2020 starts with the seventh annual FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship from July 24-26 at Battle Creek Country Club in Battle Creek, Mich., the first of two Epson Tour events sponsored by Potawatomi nation tribes.
As well as the normal purse payout for each event, players receive “Potawatomi Points” with $20,000 in bonus money to be distributed at the conclusion of the Four Winds Invitational at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Ind., from Sept. 4-6. The top five players in the points standings receive a sum from the prize pool including $10,000 to the Potawatomi Cup winner and $5,000 to the runner-up.
Defending champion Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) is not among the competitors this year, as she finished at No. 4 in the 2019 Volvik Race for the Card to secure LPGA Tour membership.
“The Potawatomi Cup is such a unique and amazing series for all the Epson Tour players,” said Cheng. “Having the Potawatomi nations come together to provide a bonus money prize pool is something none of us ever expected, but we are beyond thankful for. Actions like this help us in ways they can’t even imagine and I am glad this opportunity is available again for players in such a crazy year.”
Other past champions include (Seoul, Republic of Korea), (Levittown, N.Y.), (La Hulpe, Belgium), (Bangkok, Thailand) and (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) from 2014-2018, respectively.
PANO, SHIPLEY SISTERS HIGHLIGHT TOURNAMENT EXEMPTIONS
For a second consecutive year, the Epson Tour and Women’s All-Pro Tour (WAPT) have partnered together to give WAPT winners exemption into select Epson Tour events. The FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship is the first tournament for the 2020 partnership.
In June, 15-year-old amateur (Lake Worth, Florida) finished third at 6-under par overall in the Hurricane Creek Classic on the WAPT. While it was not enough to win, she finished just behind LPGA Tour members Kristen Gillman and Maria Fassi to secure one of the four WAPT exemption spots for the field at Battle Creek.
“It was nice having something to play in. I hadn't really played in anything so far this year, but I got to play with some great LPGA players like Maria Fassi and Kristen Gillman,” said Pano. “It was a really good experience. I enjoyed it a lot. I love to come to this event. Last year, I know Kathy [George] did a great job and it's so nice of them during this crazy time be able to run this event.”
Meanwhile, sisters Gabrielle and Sarah Shipley of Hastings, Mich., are this week’s tournament sponsor exemptions. Gabrielle made her first start on the LPGA Tour at the 2019 Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give after earning a spot in the field through the Monday Qualifier. Her younger sister, Sarah, will be competing in the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship for the third time in her career (2017, 2019). Sarah is still an amateur while she continues her collegiate career at the University of Kentucky.