ROCHESTER, N.Y., July 12, 2016 – The Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, returns to action with the 2nd annual Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic at Brook-Lea Country Club from July 14-17. The event marks the 40th year of women’s professional golf in Rochester. First-round play begins on Thursday, July 14 and the 72-hole event concludes on Sunday, July 17.
Play will begin at 7:30 a.m. all four days of the tournament. Players will tee from the first and tenth holes in rounds one and two. There will be a cut to the low 60 and ties following second-round play. Play will begin from the first tee only on Saturday and Sunday. The estimated finishing time on Sunday is 4:30 p.m. and the trophy ceremony will take place on the 18th green after the final putt.
The top 144 aspiring LPGA Tour professionals from the United States and 27 countries around the globe will compete for an increased purse of $200,000. The winner will earn $30,000 and likely move into or close to the top 10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list. The top 10 on the year-end money list earn LPGA membership for the 2017 season.
The Danielle Downey event started in 2015 to honor the life of Danielle, who was one of the most successful golfers to come out of Rochester. There was a void in Rochester when the LPGA left until local organizers stepped in. In 2015, former NCAA national champion Annie Park posted four rounds in the 60’s (-16) to best former Solheim Cup member Vicky Hurst. Park won $22,500 last year. The total tournament purse is up $50,000 over 2015.
WOMEN’S FORUM A HUGE SUCCESS: Tournament Co-Chair Mike Vadala had two themes for the 2016 Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic. The first was to celebrate 40 years of professional women’s golf in Rochester. The second theme is “more than golf” with the goal of having a greater impact on the Rochester community.
“The event today had 15 tables and each had two kids from the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection who had a chance to interact with other kids, executives and young professionals at their tables plus four dynamic speakers,” said Vadala. “The interplay was amazing and the conversation at the tables was top notch. The speakers all had great stories and I think it was wonderful for the kids to hear people that are extremely successful who didn’t know what they wanted to be at 15.”
The four panel speakers were LPGA Hall-of-Famer Nancy Lopez, former General Manager of IBM Anne Altman, 2018 Olympic hopeful Jessica Walker and Orthopedic Surgeon at UR Medical Center Judy Baumhauer, MD.
Fifteen Symetra Tour professionals also participated in the forum.
“It is always fun to be around women, it was empowering and I just loved it,” said Nancy Lopez. “It’s a good, good thing and I was happy to be part of it.”
Alexandra Casi, a Symetra Tour professional who is being sponsored this week by Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, knew little about the forum coming into it, but left equally empowered.
“I felt so empowered and I’m just so glad I was here,” said Casi. “The girl that was sitting next to me, I wish I had access to what she has because I changed majors three times in college and she knows exactly what she wants to do. All four women had such wonderful insight and it was great for the young girls at my table.
“This has been a fantastic week and I haven’t started golfing yet.”
Madison Pressel, the younger sister of LPGA star Morgan and an ambassador for the tournament, was inspired after the forum.
“Generally, any sport is male dominated so to hear these women who have all overcome being in male dominated fields is empowering,” said Pressel. “Being a young women who wants to have a family one day it is really empowering to know that I can have my career, my education and my family and still maintain a balanced life.”
Pressel said that the experience for the kids was invaluable.
“To hear and meet all these successful women with very different backgrounds is great,” said Pressel. “One of the girls at my table was working at Wegmans since she was 15 and now she is a junior in college and transitioning into more of a career based path and she is scared, but she has the mentors and she was able to talk to other people today about how they got to their positions.”
Rookie Emma Talley, who is playing in just her fifth Symetra Tour event, said it was one of the best things she has ever attended.
“That was the best event I’ve ever been to,” said Talley, as she was leaving the course with her mom. “All four women on the panel came from completely different backgrounds and have completely different personalities and are all really successful. I came out of there a better person.”
Talley was talking to Vadala as she was walking off the course after practicing and relayed a story.
“Mike said me ‘I’m 60 years old and I left the forum a better person’ because there were just so many meaningful discussions,” said Talley. “I came out of there with a positive attitude on what is going on in my life and others around me.”
The Women’s Executive Forum was emceed by former WHEC Sports Director Robin Dewind.
2015 CHAMP CHECKS IN FROM LPGA EVENT: Annie Park, who won at Brook-Lea in 2015, reminisced about her win from the LPGA event this week in Sylvania, Ohio.
“The win meant a lot to me, it was my first professional victory,” said Park. “Leaving school in May and winning in July, the Symetra Tour definitely prepared for the LPGA now. It was great to play with Vicky (Hurst) and the fans were very supportive. I would say that was one of my favorite events on the Symetra Tour.”
Park, a Long Island native, had never been Rochester before the event, but came away with a new appreciation for Upstate New York.
“The course was in great shape and I’m sure it is in great shape this year,” said Park. “I just had so much fun so that is really what I remember from that week.”
HALL-OF-FAMER PAT BRADLEY ON ROCHESTER: In the spirit of the 40th anniversary of women’s professional golf in Rochester, we asked former winners in Rochester about the city and what it means to them.
Pat Bradley won in Rochester in 1977 and 1985.
“What I remember most is the tremendous welcome and support we received every year playing in Rochester,” said Bradley. “My most memorable moments were walking up the 18th fairways with the fans five people deep on both sides cheering us to the finish. The community spirit and appreciation for professional golf in Rochester is second to no other place. I treasure my friendships I made and my two wins. Thank you Rochester.”