Professional golfers from around the world will once again head to Prattville for the Guardian Championship on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour. Sponsored by Guardian Credit Union, the tournament will be played on the Senator Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Capitol Hill location. The 54-hole tournament is Sept. 20-22. The Symetra Tour is the feeder tour to the LPGA Tour.

The Web.com Tour (now Korn Ferry Tour) played the same course in April, making it the only course in North America to host both professional men and women’s golf in 2019.

This is the 22nd year for professional golf to be played on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The Guardian Championship has also extended its contract through 2022.

“Guardian is excited for another great tournament at Capitol Hill this year,”said Guardian Credit Union CEO Heath Harrell. “We are pleased with the outcome of Guardian Championship during its first two years and are looking forward to growing the event this year and beyond.

Guardian has been invested in the community for 60 years now and we are proud to continue the tradition of women’s golf in Alabama.”

This year’s Guardian Championship will feature 120 professional women’s golfers from nearly 30 countries. This will be the third year for the locally sponsored event at Capitol Hill and the 12th year for professional women’s golf competing at Capitol Hill.

The purse has increased to $175,000 (up from $160,000 last year), with the winner taking home $26,250. The top 10 players on the Symetra Tour’s Volvik Race for the Card money list at the end of the season earn LPGA Tour membership for 2020.

The current field includes Lakareber Abe, Mia Landegren and Janie Jackson, all former players for the University of Alabama; Marta Sanz Barrio from Auburn University; Fatima Fernandez Cano from Troy University; and former State Amateur champion Elaine Wood from the University of Montevallo. Jackson is from Huntsville and Wood is from Spanish Fort.

The Symetra Tour hosted the Zimmer Biomet Championship in May at RTJ Grand National in Opelika with Spain’s Nuria Iturrioz earning the win. She is currently is ranked 11th on the money list and will be competing in Prattville. Most of the golfers from that event will be competing in the Guardian Championship.

Currently no one with local ties is inside the all-important top 10 on the money list.

Admission to the championship is free.

Regards the LPGA Tour, it is also coming down to crunch time. Just two events remain on the regular schedule and finishing in the top 100 on the money list at that point means a player is exempt for next year.

Of local players, former UA star and two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gilman leads the way in 51st spot. She has won $314,000 from 18 events. Next up is former Auburn standout Cydney Clanton, who is 57th with $275,000 in earnings, despite just playing seven events, but one of those was a win, with playing partner Jasmine Suwannapura, in the team-event Dow Great Lakes Invitational.

Former UA star Lauren Stephenson looks safe in 87th spot, with $138,00 won from 17 events, but it is much more precarious for another former UA great Emma Talley, who is in 99th spot.

Yet another UA superstar Stephanie Meadow needs a strong finish as she’s in 109th, while former UA teammate Cheyenne Knight needs a big push, as she is 117th.

 

Ian Thompson has been writing about golf in Alabama for over 26 years. His weekly “Mr. Golf” column concentrates on golfers, golf events and people associated with the sport of interest to the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham areas. Reach him with story ideas at thompsonteesoff@gmail.com