Post-Standard Women's Am champ to receive exemption into Credit Union Classic
By: Fran Piraino
The perks of being the Post-Standard Women’s Amateur champion just got better.
As an added bonus for winning the prestigious local golf tournament, the P-S Women’s Am champion will also qualify for a coveted exemption into the LPGA Symetra Tour’s 19th annual Credit Union Classic presented by Wegmans.
The announcement was made May 16 by Tournament Director Bill Motto and Tournament Chairman Mike Vadala, who is also The Summit Federal Credit Union President.
As the local amateur exempt player, the P-S Women’s Am champ would be among the high-caliber field of more than 140 rising stars in professional women’s golf in the tournament July 28-Aug. 3 at Drumlins Country Club’s East Course.
“We are really excited for this new partnership with the P-S Women’s Am because it supports the mission of this event which is to promote women’s golf in Central New York,” Vadala said. “We already do this to a great extent through our junior clinics, and pro-junior challenge and support of the First Tee of Syracuse. But this is an even greater step because we will be awarding a once in a lifetime opportunity for a great player and a deserving local amateur to play in a professional tournament.”
Motto added that the committee felt that the two-day medal play format presented by the P-S Women’s Amateur Tournament offered a great test that would identify and reward the champion from an outstanding field of local amateur players.
Teresa “T” Cleland, the defending P-S Women’s Am champion, believes this is an exceptional opportunity for up-and-coming golfers in the area.
“For the young kids, it’s phenomenal because this is what they want to do, to play professional golf,” Cleland said. “This would give them a chance to see what professional golf is like. I’m hoping (the exemption) will create some interest with the younger girls to enter the Women’s Am. It’s a cool opportunity for them.”
Cleland knows from experience what it’s like to compete with the pros. In the late 1990s, Cleland received an exemption invite and competed in a Futures Tour tournament held at Erie Village. The Futures Tour evolved into the Symetra Tour in 2007. The Symetra Tour is the LPGA’s official developmental tour.
“It was amazing to be a part of it,” Cleland said. “It’s so exciting to compete on that level.”
The P-S Women’s Am is scheduled for July 21 at Cortland Country Club and July 22 at Cazenovia Country Club. The entry fee is $80 and the registration deadline is July 15. Cleland, winner of six P-S Women’s Am titles overall, is also the three-time defending New York State Mid-Amateur champion.
CNY PGA Tournament Administrator Chuck Harty, who serves as the P-S Women’s Am tourney director, is pleased to have the P-S Am winner represent Syracuse women's golf at the Credit Union Classic.
"Our championship setup and unique multi-site, 36-hole format always produces a worthy champion," Harty said.
Each year the Credit Union Classic tournament committee awards two sponsor exemptions. The recipient of the second exemption will be announced later this month. The winner of the Credit Union Classic will cash $15,000.
The Credit Union Classic features a full field American and international LPGA Symetra Tour women golf professionals. The Credit Union Classic, with a prize fund of $100,000, is also the third-longest running event on the Symetra Tour.
Olivia Jordan-Higgins, a native of Jersey, an island off the British coast, won the Credit Union Classic last summer. Jordan-Higgins confirmed May 15 she will be back in Syracuse to defend her title.
For the past seven years, the local Credit Union Classic local exemption was awarded to the Section III individual women’s golf champion. Auburn’s Larissa Carter received the exemption last year and competed in the tournament.
Empower Federal Credit Union, The Summit Federal Credit Union, and SEFCU are once again partnering with Wegmans as the founding sponsors for this tournament, which benefits The First Tee of Syracuse. The tournament has raised nearly $500,000 for charities since its inception.