Below is a list of how Canadian golfers fared across the major professional tours the week prior.
Hideki Matsuyama almost squandered a six shot lead with bogeys on three of his final four holes before holding on to win the Masters by a single stroke, becoming the first Japanese winner of the green jacket. He becomes the second man from an Asian country to win a major after Y.E. Yang of South Korea won the 2009 PGA Championship. Will Zalatoris finished second – the best performance by a first-timer to the Masters since Jordan Spieth was runner-up in 2014 to Bubba Watson. Xander Schauffele put on a late charge with fourth straight birdies on the back nine only to see his title hopes end with a triple-bogey on the par-3 16th. …Corey Conners made the weekend cut for the third straight time as a pro (he missed in his first appearance as an amateur). He had the 6th hole in one at the 6th hole in Masters history – the first one in 9 years. It was also the first hole in one by a Canadian since Sandy Somerville at the very first Masters tournament in 1934. By finishing in the top-12, Conners earned an invitation back to next year’s tournament. …Mackenzie Hughes, playing in his 2nd Masters, made the weekend cut for the first time. Has yet to shoot under par in six career rounds at Augusta. …Mike Weir was making his 22nd start at Masters. He missed the cut for the sixth time in the last seven appearances.
NEXT EVENT: RBC Heritage (Apr. 15)
CANADIANS ENTERED: Corey Conners, Michael Gligic, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor
MACKENZIE TOUR-PGA TOUR CANADA
Patrick Cover started the final round in a four-way tie for the lead but a 5-under 65 was enough to give him a three stroke victory at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament in Georgia. With the victory, Cover has full membership for the 2021 season. Alexandre Fuchs, who finished runner-up, along with Ben Wolcott and Daniel O’Rourke are all exempt through the first half of the season. Five players who tied for fifth went to a playoff for the final two exempt spots. Luke Schniederjans, with a birdie on the first extra hole, and Austin Morrison – who needed three more playoff holes – secured the final spots. …Golf Canada Young Pro Squad member Joey Savoie was the top Canadian, finishing in a tie for 10th and earning conditional membership.
NEXT EVENT: Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada Q-School-CANADA West 3 (May 24)
Maude-Aimée Leblanc ties career-best T2 on Symetra Tour
Maude-Aimée Leblanc (Symetra Tour)
LPGA Tour Communications
The final results were not what 18-hole leader Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Sherbrooke, Quebec) had in mind, but the Purdue University All-American remains optimistic. An even-par 72 final round in Riverside County for the 10-year professional put her at 7-under overall, good for a tie for second.
“It feels good to be back in the swing of things. My game is in the good place and my mental game as well, that is more important to me,” said Leblanc.
Schubert starts the 2021 season with back-to-back top-10 finishes and is eager for the rest of the season, yet happy to see two weeks off before the next event. She plans to take the break ahead of the inaugural Casino del Sol Golf Classic to fine tune parts of her game she feels need some help after the opening weeks.
“I am going to take a couple days off and go and see my coach, just tweak a few things and focus on a few things that I want to work on,” said Schubert. “I would just say that I was really proud of myself in my patience. Today for example I wasn’t putting very well. I was hitting the ball well, but I tried not to get too emotional try not to get too upset and just stayed patient in there at the end they fell.”
Canadians Brittany Marchand and Maddie Szeryk eager to be back on Symetra Tour
Brittany Marchand (Getty Images)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Brittany Marchand felt like her career was on an upswing after tying for eighth at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in early March. It was the first tournament of the Symetra Tour season and was Marchand’s best finish in more than a year after she muddled through the 2019 LPGA Tour schedule.
A week later and the Symetra Tour, like the rest of North America’s professional sports, was on indefinite hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let’s just say it was 100 per cent a momentum killer if I’ve ever seen one,” Marchand said with a laugh. “I’d already had quite a long off-season and then to have another off-season, essentially, it was like ‘OK, I’ve already worked on everything I wanted to. I’m ready to go.”’
Marchand, from Orangeville, Ont., is one of four Canadians in the field at this week’s FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek, Mich., a three-round tournament that tees off Friday morning. She’s still eighth in the tour’s rankings thanks to that strong finish in March.
“Little did I know that that finish at the beginning was actually going to be a huge help,” said Marchand. “Normally that would have been great but it wouldn’t have determined much of anything over the course of a season.”
It’s the first tournament to be played by the LPGA Tour family following the three-month hiatus. The shortened Symetra Tour schedule is now 10 events.
The Symetra Tour will still award LPGA Tour membership to the top players on the money list at the end of the year. However, five cards with partial status will be available instead of the 10 that have been distributed each year since 2008.
“A full LPGA card is off the table,” said Marchand, who added that in some ways it creates a pressure-free situation. “I have to wrap my head around the fact that I won’t be starting next year on the LPGA, no matter what, even if I finish at the top of the money list.”
Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., is also eager to get back to work at the FireKeepers. Her only competition during the pandemic break was a 16th place finish at the Texas Women’s Open and playing with her sister Ellie, a Texas A&M prospect.
Like Marchand, Szeryk said she’s pleased to be playing competitive golf again but has mixed feelings about the limited exemptions available for the next LPGA Tour season.
“It’s a bummer that you don’t even really have a chance this year,” said Szeryk, who is No. 41 on the tour’s money list. “There’s nothing we can do about it so I just have to look at is as a growing experience and I’m really going to be ready for (the LPGA) when I get up there.”
Josee Doyon of St-Georges, Que., and Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., round out the Canadian contingent at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship.
The LPGA Tour resumes its schedule next week with the Drive On Championship, which Hamilton’s Alena Sharp has already declared she will play in.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Symetra Tour announced today that it will resume the 2020 season with the seventh annual FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship at Battle Creek Country Club in Battle Creek, Mich. from July 24-26.
This event will mark the first tournament to be played by the LPGA Tour family following a three-month hiatus. It is also the first of nine tournaments on the remaining 2020 Symetra Tour schedule, making an even 10 tournaments for the 2020 campaign.
“We are extremely grateful to our partners and host venues for continued flexibility and support,” said Mike Nichols, Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour. “They have worked tirelessly to keep all hopes and dreams alive for the next generation of LPGA Tour stars. In addition to Symetra Tour sponsors, the ANNIKA Foundation recently showcased an unparalleled form of generosity with their Crisis Relief Fund providing $50,000 in grants to Symetra Tour players financially affected by the coronavirus.”
Two Symetra Tour events have changed dates, including the Founders Tribute in Mesa, Ariz., at Longbow Golf Club, a recent addition to the schedule. Originally set for Aug. 27-29, it will now lead the West Coast swing from Aug. 14-16, followed by the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa from Aug. 21-23. Meanwhile, the Four Winds Invitational at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Ind., will now be played Sept. 4-6 instead of July 31 through Aug. 2.
The Symetra Tour will conclude the season in the southeastern United States, starting Sept. 18-20 with the Guardian Championship in Prattville, Ala., at the Capitol Hill Senator Course on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The Tour will then head to Florida for two weeks, competing at the IOA Classic brought to you by RP Funding from Sept. 25-27 in Longwood at Alaqua Country Club, followed by the Symetra Classic from Oct. 1-4 on the Jones Course at LPGA International in Daytona Beach. The 2020 season will then conclude with two weeks in North Carolina, with the Carolina Golf Classic from Oct. 28-31 at Pinehurst No. 9 in Pinehurst and the season-ending Symetra Tour Championship from Nov. 3-6 in Davidson at River Run Country Club.
Purses are still being finalized, but players on the Symetra Tour will be competing for greater than $1.5 million during the season. Additionally, the Symetra Tour will once again award LPGA Tour Membership to the top players on the Volvik Race for the Card money list at the end of the year. However, five cards will be available instead of the 10 that have been distributed each year since 2008.
Below is a revised look at the 2020 Symetra Tour schedule, as of June 17:
FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship
Battle Creek Country Club; Battle Creek, Michigan
Longbow Golf Club; Mesa, Arizona
IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon; Beaumont, California
Four Winds Invitational
Blackthorn Golf Club; South Bend, Indiana
Senator Course at Capitol Hill (RTJ Golf Trail); Prattville, Alabama
IOA Classic brought to you by RP Funding
Alaqua Country Club; Longwood, Florida
Jones Course at LPGA International; Daytona Beach, Florida
She was worn down and frustrated after a disappointing sophomore season on the LPGA Tour. Marchand didn’t touch her clubs for three weeks after the final event in November and spoke with family and friends over the off-season about what she should do next.
“I came off of a really tough year and I was not in a very good place after the end of last year,” said Marchand, who missed all but one cut in 2019, tying for 55th at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in July.
That meant if Marchand was going to return to pro golf it would be on the second-tier Symetra Tour and she would have to earn her way back on to the top-flight LPGA Tour for the 2021 season. After some soul searching, the native of Orangeville, Ont., decided to give it another try.
“I wanted to give it my all this off-season and putting in the work and then actually seeing it pay off in the first event is definitely a good feeling,” said Marchand, who finished in a tie for eighth at the season-opening Florida’s Natural Charity Classic last weekend. “I feel like Brittany again. It’s nice to feel that again and remember that, you know, I do like golf.”
One of the people Marchand consulted with was fellow Team Canada Young Pro Squad member Anne-Catherine Tanguay, who herself is on a one-year leave of absence from the LPGA. Tanguay encouraged Marchand to take another run at it and, if necessary, end her career on her terms.
“It’s a long year, and it’s a grind, especially if you have to play on the Symetra Tour,” said Quebec City’s Tanguay, who is pregnant with her first child. “It’s a commitment to do. It’s a life choice to travel and live in your suitcases and I think to do it you have to have the passion for it.
“That’s also something that we touched upon. You just have to want it so when it’s not there anymore, maybe you need to ask yourself other questions. But if you still feel like you have some great golf in you and you still have the passion, I think you should go for it.”
Marchand, who is based outside of Raleigh, N.C., plans to play in the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in Beaumont, Calif., starting March 27. It’s the second event of the Symetra Tour season and, on the way out there, she’s going to try the Monday qualifier for the LPGA’s Volvik Founders Cup in Phoenix.
“I obviously know that I can play on the LPGA. It was tough to not believe in myself last year,” Marchand said. “It’s worth giving myself another shot. To be out there and no matter how the year ends, I think I’ll feel better if I walk away from golf next year.
“I think I’ll feel like it was the right way rather than if I left last year, I think maybe down the road I would have regretted it.”
Team Canada’s Maddie Szeryk leads Symetra Tour opener
Maddie Szeryk (Symetra Tour)
With the first 18 holes of the 2020 Symetra Tour season in the books, it is Texas A&M University alumna Maddie Szeryk (London, Ontario, Canada) alone atop the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic leaderboard courtesy of a 5-under par 67 performance.
“It was good to come out and play again,” said Szeryk, who recorded six birdies around the Country Club of Winter Haven this afternoon. “I was not putting too much pressure on myself, just going to play and whatever happens, happens. Shake off the rust a little.”
The second-year professional finished tied for 71st at the second annual LPGA Q-Series in November and then recharged the batteries. Szeryk traveled to Rosemary Beach in the Florida Panhandle with several former college teammates to “do nothing and just hang out.”
“I took most of November and part of December just completely off, needed a break and a restart,” said Szeryk.
“The first tournament of the year, you never know what to expect. I didn’t drive it super well last year, so that was a big focus for the offseason and I only missed two fairways today, was always in play.”
One shot back of the lead is three-time Symetra Tour champion Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida), who found her way to six birdies this afternoon to sign for a 4-under par 68.
“It’s very homey to me, there’s a lot of similarities to my home course [Suntree Country Club],” Iacobelli said. “Plus, I love Bermuda and fast Bermuda. I’ve also played here since 2009, back when the Symetra Tour had a Q-School.”
Iacobelli has competed in this tournament at the Country Club of Winter Haven in each of the last three years. Her best finish of runner-up came a season ago while she has never finished outside the top-18 during that span. Even so, Iacobelli pointed out aspects that make her excited for a season opener other than getting off to a fast start.
“It’s cool to see it kind of come together a little bit,” said Iacobelli. “You’ve been practicing for however many weeks and kind of fighting things, or not necessarily scoring how you want to at home. The scoring out here matters. I’m just overly ecstatic to not be sitting on my couch for another week, so happy to be working.”
Maddie Szeryk has a season’s worth of lessons on Symetra Tour
Maddie Szeryk (Bernard Brault/ Golf Canada)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Maddie Szeryk has learned a lot about herself and the sport of golf in her first full season as a professional player.
The 23-year-old Szeryk made her Symetra Tour debut in March and has put together a strong debut campaign on the second-tier women’s circuit, remaining in contention for a full LPGA Tour card as the season winds down. There was still a steep learning curve for Szeryk, even though the dual Canadian-American citizen had won four NCAA tournaments over four years at Texas A&M.
“I think I’ve grown a lot, learned how to manage myself,” said Szeryk. “I thought I’d done pretty well over the years in college and amateur golf in the summer but it’s just a whole ‘nother level of travel.
“I think I’ve learned that the hard way, that maybe you need to take more breaks or some days you don’t have to spend every day out here all day. Have a few big days but then set a list of what you want to accomplish then leave.”
Szeryk has played in 19 tournaments since the SKYiGOLF Championship in March – 18 on the Symetra Tour and the LPGA’s CP Women’s Open – and will be in the field at this week’s Guardian Championship at Capitol Hill Golf Club in Prattville, Ala.
That grind of nearly a tournament per week has taught Szeryk to pace herself, including scheduling her heaviest gym days for Mondays and keeping the lighter workouts for later in the week.
Finding balance has paid off for Szeryk, who has been in the top 10 four times this season and sits 17th on the Volvik Race for the Card. Including the Guardian Championship, there are three tournaments left on the Symetra Tour schedule for her to crack the top 10 on the money list and earn a full LPGA Tour card for the 2020 season.
“I just need to focus on every shot. I can’t get too ahead of myself,” said Szeryk, who has earned US$55,604 this season.
Tenth-ranked Min Seo Kwak has $65,831 heading into play this week and No. 9 Jenny Coleman has won $66,851.
“I’ve worked hard for good results so hopefully that can show up for the next few weeks,” Szeryk said.
Szeryk joined Golf Canada’s Young Pro Squad this season after four years on the amateur squad. She’s drawn some inspiration this autumn from seeing fellow Canadians Michael Gligic and Taylor Pendrith move up the men’s pro ranks.
“It’s awesome to see so many good Canadians moving up,” said Szeryk. “Sometimes it takes time to get to where you want to be. It’s all a learning experience and everyone has a different path but it’s definitely really cool and encouraging to see other players get there.”
Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., and Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., are the other Canadians in the field at the three-day Guardian Championship, which begins Friday.
Canada’s Maude Aimee Leblanc second at Symetra Tour’s CDPHP Open
Maude-Aimée LeBlanc (Symetra Tour)
ALBANY, N.Y. – Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., shot a 2-under 69 to tie for second on Sunday at the Symetra Tour’s CDPHP Open.
“I like where my game is at right now and it was fun today being in the final group,” said Leblanc. “It was nice to get a feel for that, hopefully to use over the next seven events. Just a lot of positives to takes from this week. Had a couple bad breaks this afternoon, but overall it was solid.”
American Robynn Ree fired a 4-under 67 in the final round to win the tournament at 13 under.
Yujeong Son and Holly Clyburn tied with Leblanc at 12 under.
Leblanc was co-leader with Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez after Saturday’s second round at 10 under.
Samantha Richdale (73) of Kelowna, B.C., tied for 47th at 2 under and Hannah Hellyer (73) of Stirling, Ont., tied for 56th at even par.
Canada’s Maddie Szeryk finishes in top five at Island Resort Championship
HARRIS, Mich. –Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont. fired three rounds in the 60s, finishing in a tie for fourth place at the Island Resort Championship on Sunday.
The Team Canada Young Pro Squad member was the only competitor at the event to shoot all three of her rounds in the 60s at Sweetgrass Golf Club, finishing two strokes back of champion Daniela Iacobelli. It was Szeryk’s third top-five finish in his last four starts on the Symetra Tour.
It took 55 holes, but Iacobelli captured her third career Symetra Tour victory with a birdie in the first frame of a sudden-death playoff against Cindy Ha.
Each of Iacobelli’s three wins have come after she missed the cut the week prior.
“It feels good, there are a lot of memories here and this will just add to the list,” said Iacobelli, who also captured the 2012 Symetra Tour Championship and 2015 Tullymore Classic titles. “I think I just get a little upset with myself and come into the next tournament guns blazing.”
When the final round started at Sweetgrass Golf Club, Iacobelli was tied for 13th and looking at a six-stroke deficit. A bogey-free, 7-under par 65 moved the Florida Institute of Technology alumna quickly up the leaderboard.
“Started quick with birdie on the first three and made the turn in 5-under,” said Iacobelli, who finished at 11-under par overall. “I was like, ‘Ok, let’s step on the gas pedal,’ but the wind picked up a little bit and just tried not to make mistakes. The putter was hot this week, which is crazy since I switched grips on Wednesday. The 18th hole, I’m glad the wind was blowing the way it was because I only know how to play it as a two-shot hole. That was a bit advantageous.”
Her finish in Harris, Mich. earns exemption into The Evian Championship next month, the fourth major on the LPGA Tour schedule this year. A 2012 and 2015 Symetra Tour graduate, Iacobelli has spent three years on the LPGA Tour. However, she has never played in The Evian Championship.
“I’m excited, never been to France and looking forward to it,” Iacobelli said. “Get to experience another moment of my career, I can’t wait. That is for sure the crazier part of all this.”
Canada’s Maddie Szeryk records best finish as a pro
Maddie Szeryk (Symetra Tour)
Opelika, Ala. – Playing in the first final grouping of her professional career, 2019 Symetra Tour rookie Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont. stood her ground when tested on the Lake Course at Grand National to capture the best result out of her first eight starts as a pro.
The Texas A&M University alumna and member of Golf Canada’s Young Pro Team found double bogey on the par-5 4th, but went bogey-free with three birdies the rest of the way to shoot 1-under par 71 in the final round of the Symetra Tour’s inauguralZimmer Biomet Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez.
At 10-under overall, two strokes was the difference between her finish and forcing a playoff.
“It’s huge and I definitely played really well, this is the best finish of the year,” Szeryk said. “I’m really excited to take this momentum into the next few tournaments and build on it. I had a rough hole early, but was able to come back from it and find myself in the mix.”
A final round 1-under par 71 was enough for Nuria Iturrios of Spain to clinch a wire-to-wire victory at the inaugural Zimmer Biomet Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez, stepping into the winner’s circle for the first time in her Symetra Tour career.