BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — The 14th on the 2021 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Epson Tour to Battle Creek Country Club in the Great Lakes State for the eighth annual Casino Hotel Championship from August 6-8.
Greeting the 144-player field in Battle Creek is a total purse of $175,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 54-hole stroke play format, cut to the low 60 and ties after 36 holes. The winner’s share for the event is $26,250.
Defending champion Liu (Guangdong, People’s Republic of China) is among the competitors this week. The win was the fourth of her professional career and one of fifteen career top-10 results. This year Liu has claimed two champion titles in the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic and Casino Del Sol Golf Classic. She currently is No. 4 in the Race for the Card with season earnings of $74,442.
As well as the normal payout, players receive “Potawatomi Points” with $30,000 in total bonus money distributed over the three participating events. The top players in the points standings receive a sum from the prize pool, including $5,000 to the Potawatomi Cup winner at the conclusion of the Four Winds Invitational at South Bend Country Club in South Bend, Ind., Aug. 13-15.
Action gets underway at 7:30 a.m. EDT all three days with play starting off No. 1 and No. 10 tees in each round. A trophy presentation on No. 18 green is set to follow final-round play.
COLLEGIATE CONNECTIONS IN THE GREAT LAKES STATE
Two individuals with ties to Michigan institutions for higher education are featured among competition in the Great Lakes States and are players to keep an eye on once the event starts Friday.
Sarah Hoffman (Saline, Michigan) and tournament sponsor exemption Gabrielle Shipley (Hastings, Michigan) will don the Laker Blue & White of Grand Valley State University at Battle Creek Country Club.
“I’m looking forward to playing in Battle Creek this week, it’s always special to be able to have my family and friends come watch and support me when we play close to home,” said Hoffman. “It’s also fun be close to my alma mater and represent the GVSU Lakers. My time spent there really prepared me for the professional career I have had both on and off the golf course and for that I am truly grateful.”
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE FIREKEEPERS CASINO HOTEL CHAMPIONSHIP
A total of 27 countries are represented this week at the Casino Hotel Championship, led by the United States with 76 players then followed by the Republic of Korea, Sweden, and Canada each having the next highest of eight competitors.
“It is amazing to play on a tour filled with so many professional golfers from all over the world. The Epson Tour takes us to so many different places and communities in this great country,” said Samantha Wagner (Windermere, Florida). “Traveling to all of these tournaments makes me appreciate being able to play this game and represent the United States each week.”
Individuals from 25 different states are also set to tee it up at Battle Creek Country Club. Six players hail from the host state—including Sarah White (Grand Rapids, Michigan)—while Florida boasts the most with 13.
“I am very excited to compete so close to home. I am actually staying at home, and I am getting as many of my family members, friends and other people I can find to come out and watch the Epson Tour this week,” said White. “Michigan is such a beautiful place, and I can’t wait to play at Battle Creek Country Club.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Epson Tour have made the trek to Calhoun County, as 27 rookies are in the field for the 14th event of the Epson Tour season.
Among them is Hong (Seoul, People’s Republic of Korea). Hong has made nine cuts in 12 starts with four top-10 finishes. Her career-best finish (T3) came last year in her only start at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. Prior to competing on the Epson Tour, Hong represented her native country at the 2018 World Amateur Team Championship and helped to capture a bronze medal.
“For the past three years, I didn't have a full tournament schedule. I've been playing every week this year and feel like stamina and mental strength are very important,” said Hong. “I've been learning every week that it's a fight with myself and it’s important to play your own game.”
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 13 tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shifting following the Twin Bridges Championship. All 10 members from the group are in Battle Creek including No. 6 Rachel Rohanna (Marriana, Pennsylvania).
“I’m feeling really good with where my game is right now physically and mentally. I still have a lot of goals I am trying to accomplish before the end of the season, so even though I’m in a good place right now, I still have some work to do to reach my personal goals,” said Rohanna.
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.