ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The 12th stop on the 2021 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Epson Tour to Brook Lea Country Club in the Empire State for the sixth annual Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic from July 15-18.
Greeting the 144-player field in Rochester, N.Y. is a total purse of $175,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 72-hole stroke play format with a cut to the low 60 players and ties after 36 holes. The winner’s share for the event is $26,250.
Defending champion Patty Tavatanakit (Bangkok, Thailand) is not among the competitors, as she finished second in the 2019 Race for the Card after earning three wins. Since graduating onto the LPGA Tour, Tavatanakit is now a major champion at the 2021 ANA Inspiration. In addition to winning the ANA Inspiration, the UCLA alumna has claimed four more top-five finishes.
Action gets underway at 7:30 a.m. ET all four days with play starting off No. 1 and No. 10 tees in the first and second round. All groups will head off No. 1 tee in the third and final rounds with a trophy presentation to follow on No. 18 green.
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE DANIELLE DOWNEY CREDIT UNION CLASSIC
A total of 26 countries are represented this week at the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic, led by the United States with 76 players then followed by Canada having the next highest of nine competitors.
“Representing Sweden is super cool. Being out here every week and feeling like you’re playing for more than yourself is pretty cool,” said Frida Kinhult (Fiskebackskil, Sweden), one of seven representing her native Sweden in New York. “Last week was the European team championships and back in the days, when I played them, it was the absolute funniest week of the year. I followed all of the teams closely and it got me motivated to keep grinding.”
Individuals from 26 different states are also set to tee it up at Brook-Lea Country Club. Two players hail from the host state, while Florida boasts the most with 13.
“I get so excited to play in New York each season. Having lived away for a while now because of college and golf it’s always so nice to be back,” said Kendra Dalton (Poughquag, New York). “It brings back a lot of fun memories of learning to play the game as a kid here. I love the people, the food, the accents, all of it. Makes for a fun couple of weeks.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE EMPIRE STATE
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Epson Tour have made the trek to Monroe County, as 31 rookies are in the field and eager for the 12th event of the Epson Tour season.
Among them is Lucy Li (Redwood Shores, California) who enters this week at No. 47 in the Race for the Card. Last month, Li made a pair of cuts in back-to-back starts on the LPGA Tour at the U.S. Women’s Open and LPGA Mediheal Championship. Following the two top-20 finishes in California, she returned to the Epson Tour looking to climb the rankings.
“I had a couple good weeks in San Francisco, so I am feeling good about my game and have been hitting it really well. Hopefully I can keep that going the rest of the year. I have to take it one shot at a time and focus on each tournament. [Since being out here] I have definitely learned patience,” said Li. “Last year, I wasn’t patient on the course but it’s something I continue to learn and really used those two weeks in California.”
RACE FOR THE CARD UPDATE
The Epson Tour annually awards LPGA Tour Membership to the top players on the Race for the Card money list. With 11 tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shifting following the Donald Ross Classic. Nine of the 10 members from the group are in Rochester including current No. 1 Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin).
“Moving to the No. 1 spot on the money list has been exciting and unexpected. This season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me and I’m giving myself some time to soak in this high point,” said Danielson, who captured her second win of the season on Saturday in French Lick. “There’s a lot of golf still to be played this season, so I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself and will keep working to improve my game each week.”
From 1999-2002, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA handed out three cards. Then from 2003-2007, that number increased to five before 10 were distributed starting in 2008. Since the inaugural year, a total of 162 players have graduated to the big stage.