ALBANY, N.Y. — The 13th stop on the 2021 “Road to the LPGA” takes the Epson Tour to Pinehaven Country Club in the Empire State for the inaugural Twin Bridges Championship, July 23-25.
Greeting the 144-player field is a total purse of $175,000 in this 54-hole stroke play event, cut to the low 60 and ties after 36 holes. The winner’s share is $26,250.
Defending champion Robynn Ree (Redondo Beach, California) is not among the competitors, as she was a 2019 Epson Tour graduate. The victory in Albany was the first of two for the University of Southern California alumna and helped her finish at No. 8 in the Race for the Card.
Action gets underway at 7:30 a.m. ET all three days with play starting off No. 1 and No. 10 tees in the first and second rounds. Meanwhile, all groups will head off No. 1 for the final round with a trophy presentation to follow on No. 18 green.
COLLEGIATE CONNECTIONS AT 13TH STOP
One individual with a tie to a New York institution is featured in the competition. Michelle Piyapattra (Eastvale, California) was a three-time All-Ivy League First Team selection and a 2014 graduate of Columbia University. She was also named the 2012 Ivy League Player of the Year. Piyapattra ended her collegiate career with a 75.51 scoring average and six tournament wins.
“I always look forward to playing the New York events and being able to go to school and play at Columbia was one of the best decisions I ever made and helped shape the player I am today,” said Piyapattra. “Playing under Coach Kari Williams and her supporting my golf career, gave me the confidence to turn pro. And to be able to live and experience New York City, there’s really nothing else like it and to be able to connect with people and chat about Columbia is special since there is such a large alumni network.”
COUNTRIES (AND STATES) OF THE TWIN BRIDGES CHAMPIONSHIP
A total of 26 countries are represented this week at the Twin Bridges Championship, led by the United States with 79 players then followed by Canada having the next highest of nine competitors.
“It’s an honor to represent the USA each week on the Epson Tour. Getting to play at a professional level and having the American flag right next to your name is something really special,” said Taylor Totland (Tinton Falls, New Jersey). “There are so many amazing United States golfers ahead of me and I am hoping to be able to follow in their footsteps.”
Individuals from 24 different states are also set to tee it up at Pinehaven Country Club. Two players hail from the host state, while California boasts the most with 14.
“It’s an awesome feeling being so close to home this week. Since my parents rarely get to come out to watch throughout the year, I love that we have an event only 2.5 hours away from them,” said Karen Chung (Livingston, New Jersey). “It feels like it’s home game for me. At the same time, it’s kind of like a mini vacation since my parents supply me with unlimited amounts of amazing food. It’s great I’m excited for the week to start.”
ROOKIES APLENTY IN THE EMPIRE STATE
Numerous professionals in their first year on the Epson Tour have made the trek to Albany County, as 36 rookies are in the field and eager for the 13th event of the Epson Tour season.
Among them is Sophie Hausmann (Nottuln, Germany), who claimed her first win on the Epson Tour earlier this season at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. Hausmann is currently No. 13 in the Race for the Card thanks to three top-10 finishes this season.
“As much of a grind and challenge as it can get out here, you have to keep believing in yourself and trust your progress. There are times when it’s easier said than done, and things don’t feel perfect, but it’s so true. All the girls out here can play golf, the difference is finding the mental game. If I can see and truly believe I belong here, it helps immensely,” said Hausmann. “Knowing you are not alone out here is a real game changer as well. I was kind of nervous starting out only knowing maybe five people max. That’s has changed and makes things way more fun.”
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 twelve tournaments in the books, the top-10 underwent some shifting following the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic. Eight of the 10 members from the group are in Albany.
“I didn’t even realize I was in the top-10 last week because I’m not really concerned about where I’m at on the money list,” said Bethany Wu (Diamond Bar, California) currently No. 12 on the money list. “I can’t be looking at that list each week or else it’ll distract me. All I’m really focused on is to clean up my game, play good enough golf each week, and everything else will follow.”
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.