GARDEN CITY, Kan. — A total of 144 players will take on Buffalo Dunes Golf Course starting Friday with the first round of the seventh annual Garden City Charity Classic.
Three featured groups highlight the competition for the fifth event of the 2021 Epson Tour season.
Bailey Tardy, Fatima Fernandez Cano, Paula Reto (No. 1 tee, 8:47 a.m.)
After finding the winner’s circle for the first time this season, Bailey Tardy (Norcross, Georgia) leads the way. In four starts and only two cuts made, Tardy has earned $32,701 this season and sits at No. 4 in the ‘Race for the Card.’ Last year, she was named the 2020 Epson Rising Star after recording four top-10 finishes. The University of Georgia alumna was the 2016 SEC Freshman of the Year and a Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-SEC First Team All-American.
Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), an alumnus of Troy University, joins the trio. A one-time Epson Tour champion, Fernandez Cano captured the 2020 IOA Championship to help her finish in the top-5 of the ‘Race for the Card.’ In four starts, she started this season making every cut and claiming three top-5 finishes and is currently No. 2 on the money list.
Preparing for her second appearance in Garden City, Paula Reto (Bloemfontein, South Africa) is currently No. 17 on the Race for the Card money list and just $9,092 outside the top 10. Through two starts, the 2010 NCAA National Championship team member for Purdue University has captured two top-30 results including a season-best tie for fourth in the Copper Rock Championship.
Alejandra Llaneza, Vicky Hurst, Stephanie Na (No. 1 tee, 12:30 p.m.)
Making the trek to western Kansas to defend her title is Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico City, Mexico). Throughout her career on the Epson Tour, Llaneza has claimed sixteen top-10’s including two wins, the second coming in 2015 at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic.
Joining the group is eight-time Epson Tour Champion, including the 2015 Garden City Charity Classic, Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, FL). The 2011 Team USA Member for the Solheim Cup recorded two top-10 results including a season-best T5 at the Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship last year. Her career-best on the LPGA Tour is second at the LPGA Hana Bank Championship Presented by SK telecom.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Na (Adelaide, Australia) returns to Garden City, KS where she claimed one of her twelve career top-10 finishes. In 2019, Na finished regulation in 9-under par at this event and took home a tied for third with Maria Parra. Other previous finishes at the Garden City Charity Classic include T50, T6, and T18. Na was a member of the Australian National Team and was the champion of the 2008 Australian Stroke Play Champion.
Shasta Averyhardt, Alexis Belton, Amari Avery (No. 1 tee, 1:58 p.m.)
Shasta Averyhardt (Flint, Michigan) is competing for the second time at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course. The Jackson State University alumna owns three career top-10 performances on the Epson Tour. Last year, Averyhardt ended the season fifth in average driving distance (277 yards) and is making her first appearance for the 2021 season this week.
Joining the group is Alexis Belton (Ruston, Alabama), a two-time winner on the World Long Drive Tour with a career-best drive of 357 yards. The third-year professional on the Epson Tour was a two-time medalist for Texas Wesleyan University including the program’s first individual title at the 2013 Al Jones Memorial. Belton also won the Independent Women’s Division of the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in 2013.
Rounding out the final featured group is Epson Tour MVP Invite Amari Avery (Riverside, California). Avery finished three under par to win the girls division of the inaugural Mack Champ Invitational at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston to receive the invite for this week. The verbal commit to University of Southern California competed at the second annual 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur and advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in April 2019 with Alexa Pano.