There is a lot at stake as the LPGA’s Symetra Tour concludes its 2019 season with the final round of the Symetra Tour Championship on Sunday, October 6.
A field of 108 LPGA Tour hopefuls will play their way through the Jones Course at LPGA International Golf Course in Daytona Beach, FL, aiming to finish among the top 10 on its season-ending money list. Those who rank among the top-10 money winners will be awarded one of the much-coveted 2020 LPGA Tour cards.
Back in 2007, when the Symetra Tour—previously known as the Futures Tour—was acquired by the LPGA, the tournaments were molded over the years to become the official qualifying tour of the LPGA and a smaller, domestic version of the more global LPGA Tour.
Since then, the Symetra Tour has grown, hosting aspiring Tour players from around the world on grander stages for higher purses. This season saw an all-time high purse of $4 million awarded over the course of its 23 tournaments.
For rookie Patty Tavatanakit of Bangkok, Thailand, this season has served as her transition from college golf to playing professionally. In her freshman season on the Symetra Tour, she had posted three wins and five top-10 finishes to move to the No. 2 position on the money list, assuring her 2020 LPGA Membership.
“It’s [the Symetra Tour] been a great place to learn and coming out here this year has helped me become more clear on my commitment to this career,” said Tavatanakit, who played two years of collegiate golf at UCLA with six total wins as well as playing in numerous professional tournaments as an amateur. “I think the level of competition here is somewhere between the LPGA and college golf.”
Even with those experiences under her belt, Tavatanakit knew better than to think earning her 2020 LPGA membership would be easy this summer on a tour that boasts the top women professionals from 31 nations.
“Every process and level that I’ve taken has been a learning experience and I’m really grateful for everything,” she said. “I would not be able to get where I am without all of these steps, but I’m glad I’m in this position now on the Symetra Tour because I can go out there and play fearlessly.”
But the Symetra Tour is about more than welcoming newcomers to the LPGA Tour. For LPGA Tour veteran Julieta Granada of Paraguay, this 2019 season has offered her the chance to regain her full LPGA Tour membership. Because of her low status on the LPGA Tour money list, she had conditional status. Her best chance of playing in LPGA Tournaments was then to compete in the Monday qualifier each week to try to win her spot in the field.
But even with her success as an LPGA veteran player, going back to the tour where she started her career 14 years ago required its own level of courage and humility.
“It’s not the optimal situation when you have to go back down from the LPGA to the Symetra Tour after playing well for so many years,” Granada admitted. “But at the same time, you have to be humble, swallow your pride, and see it as an opportunity to get your LPGA card back. The Symetra Tour has given me a place to play and I’m blessed to have this chance to go back to the LPGA.”
Since her return to the Symetra Tour, Granada has recorded seven top-10s, including three runner-up finishes, and is No. 6 on the Symetra Tour’s season money list to position herself for a return to the 2020 LPGA Tour.
“Golf is a tough game and sometimes you have to take out the baggage of bad seasons that you carry around and start over again with a new approach and new perspective,” she added. “You’re always learning, adjusting and trying to improve and it doesn’t matter which tour you are on.”
From the start of one player’s professional career to a critical juncture in another’s, the Symetra Tour offers a unique competition that enables players of all levels to make meaningful moves in their playing careers.