GARDEN CITY, Kan. — The fifth stop on the 2021 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Epson Tour to Buffalo Dunes Golf Course in the Sunflower State for the seventh annual Garden City Charity Classic from April 30-May 2.
Greeting the 144-player field is a total purse of $175,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 54-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 Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico City, Mexico) is among the competitors. Throughout her career on the Epson Tour, Llaneza has claimed sixteen top-10s including two wins, the second coming at the 2015 Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic.
Action gets underway at 7:30 a.m. CT all three days with play from No. 1 and No. 10 tees in the first two rounds and a one-tee start for the final round.
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE GARDEN CITY CHARITY CLASSIC
A total of 27 countries are represented this week at the Garden City Charity Classic, led by the United States with 73 players and then followed by Mexico having the next highest of nine competitors.
“Every time I see the Mexican flag, I get more motivated to get out there and give my 100% every shot,” said Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez (Cuautla, Mexico), who has made four cuts in four starts this season. “I don’t play only for me. There’s a lot of people behind me to motivate me to keep fighting week after week.”
Individuals from 28 different states are also set to tee it up at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course. Zero players hail from the host state, while California boasts the most with 12 and Florida follows with 10.
“Getting to travel to all kinds of cities and towns is easily one of the best parts of being on Tour. We all enjoy returning to stops we're familiar with and experiencing new places as we add tournaments each year,” said August Kim (St. Augustine, Florida). “To call Florida home as a professional is something I'm very grateful for, especially since we play several events nearby.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE SUNFLOWER STATE
Numerous professionals in their rookie campaigns on the Epson Tour have made the trek to Finney County, as 34 rookies are in the field and eager for the fifth event of the Epson Tour season.
Among them is Maddie Luitweiler (Katy, Texas). The University of Texas alumna was an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2019. Last season, she made one cut in four starts with a season best of tied for 35th at the Four Winds Invitational.
“I am really excited to be returning to the Epson Tour with my first event of the season at the Garden City Charity Classic,” Luitweiler said. “Being here on a beautiful course and playing in such a competitive field fuels the fire to continue to pursue my professional golf goals and dreams. I am so thankful to the Epson Tour for providing these opportunities and preparing us for the LPGA Tour.”
RACE FOR THE CARD UPDATE
The Epson Tour annually awards LPGA Tour membership to the top players on the season-ending money list. Nine members from the current top-10 are in Garden City this week including Ruixin Liu (Guangdong, People’s Republic of China), aiming to protect her top spot in the standings for a fourth- consecutive week.
“For some golf courses we have played before, I really want to conquer them and not make the mistakes on them that I did a few years ago,” said Liu. “Island Resort Championship was my first win, so I really want to play well there again, but also Garden City, Kansas. I didn’t play well last time; I didn’t even make the cut, so that is one [event] I am most looking forward to.”
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.