Nicole Broch Larsen (Hillerod, Denmark) fired an opening round 64 on Thursday at Alaqua Country Club to take a one shot lead after the first day of the Symetra Tour Championship presented by IOA.

“The front nine was playing pretty short so I had wedges into most of the holes which makes it easier,” Broch Larsen explained. “On the back nine, I was not making a lot of birdies but then I birdied 16 and 17 which was really good but then unfortunately I finished with a bogey to not play my best round in my career so that was really annoying but I hit a good tee shot on 18 but it was just a little right and then a bad chip and pushed putt so disappointing finish but 7-under is good. I played really well so that was nice.”

Broch Larsen, who plays primarily on the Ladies European Tour, decided to come over to the United States to play in the Symetra Tour Championship presented by IOA to help prepare her for LPGA Qualifying School.

“I’m here to prepare for Stage II and Final Stage of Q-School,” Broch Larsen said. “The tournament was meant to be played in Daytona so that would’ve been good preparation for Final Stage but now I’m just here to prepare myself for Q-School. Playing the Bermuda grass is different from what I’m used to so that’s a good practice to Final Stage and then hopefully LPGA next year.”

While the preparation for what’s ahead is nice, Broch Larsen still has goals for this week’s event.

“I’m here to win,” Broch Larsen said with a smile. “My year has been a lot of ups and downs. I struggled a lot mentally at the beginning of the year until the U.S. Open in June but I played well there and at the Olympics apart from one round and now I feel like my head and my game is getting closer to where I want it to be and today was really nice out there.”

Broch Larsen is No. 87 according to the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. She is highest ranked player in the Symetra Tour Championship.

The Dane leads Pavarisa Yoktuan (Thailand) by one shot while Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) and Kendall Dye (Edmond, Okla.) sit two shots back at 5-under par.

The top 10 on the final Volvik Race for the Card money list come Sunday will earn LPGA Tour membership for the 2017 season.

Numbers six, eight, nine and 10 on the money list are all over-par after round one, which could open the door for those outside the top 10.


THAILAND PLAYERS DEAL WITH EMOTIONAL DAY: Pavarisa Yoktuan (Thailand), who ranks 15th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and is squarely in the hunt for an LPGA Tour card, posted a 6-under, 65 on Thursday. Yoktuan made seven birdies on the day.

“Everything was working and I hit it pretty close,” said Yoktuan. “It was easy to putt today because they were close. I had one bogey, but that is OK. It is a lot better than I expected because I got really bad news this morning.”

As Yoktuan was warming up, she learned that King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand died at the age of 88. He reigned in Thailand for 70 years.

“Everybody who was born in Thailand, you are born with the King in your heart,” explained Yoktuan while her emotions were overcome to tears. “He means a lot to all of us. We all knew it was going to happen soon, but we are all heartbroken.”

Yoktuan hit 10-of-13 fairways and 15-of-18 greens in regulation. She said she was playing for the King.

“This is my last event of the year and there is a lot on the line and I still have a chance so I’m trying to give it my all,” said Yoktuan. “I’d prefer not to come back for Final Stage (of LPGA Qualifying Tournament) so hopefully I can earn my card.”

Yoktuan has eight top 10 finishes this season, but no wins.

Yoktuan is one of three players from Thailand in the top 15 after round one. Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong, who ranks seventh on the money list, also learned of the news before her round. She posted a 4-under, 67.

“I hit it very good and I started with a birdie,” said Santiwiwatthanaphong. “The King meant everything for everyone in Thailand. He did everything for all the athletes in Thailand.”

Santiwiwatthanaphong has two career wins and is in prime position to earn a Tour card with a solid week.


23 THERESE O’HARA NEEDS A WIN AND STARTS WITH 68:Therese O’Hara (Copenhagen, Denmark) currently sits at 23rd on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and is the last player with a mathematical chance at making the top-10.

“My chances are so slim,” O’Hara admitted. “I guess that it’s there theoretically but I need to win and a bunch of other things need to happen so I’m just hoping to finish the season well, have a good result and get home to prepare for Q-School.”

O’Hara got off to a good start with an opening round 68.

“I just started striping the ball really well,” O’Hara explained. “Solid ball striking all around and gave myself chances. I think I missed four greens and everything outside of two greens was inside 20 feet so I had so many chances. I feel like the round should have been better but at the same time I’m happy with how I played.”

One of the keys to her strong play was a swing tip she got from her husband last night.

“I felt kind of rusty and didn’t have too many expectations today but I got a swing key from my husband yesterday and that just seemed to work so I guess I have him to thank for that. I needed some width in my backswing and then shorten it a tiny bit so I can feel more width in the swing both up and down. I hit so many solid shots so I’m happy with it.”

#11 GONZALEZ ESCALLON STARTS STRONG: Laura Gonzalez Escallon shot an opening round 69 to sit at two under, five shots back of the lead in a tie for 18th place after the opening round of the Symetra Tour Championship presented by IOA.

“I played well today,” Gonzalez Escallon said. “Just steady and solid so I was happy with that. Finished two-under and had a couple of chances on the last few holes that didn’t drop but it’s all good.”

The Belgian currently sits in the 11th spot on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and will need a solid week to secure her LPGA Tour Card for the 2017 season.

“Just have fun,” Gonzalez Escallon said of her approach to the week. “To be honest I thought we weren’t going to be able to play it so I’m just really happy that we’re playing this week. That’s all we can hope so I’ll just have fun and see what happens. That’s what you sign up for. It’d be nicer if there wasn’t so much pressure but we’ll see. So far I’ve just been trying to have fun and do my best out there.”


HOW THOSE IN CONTENTION FARED: Here is a look at how number five through 23 fared on
Thursday at the Symetra Tour Championship. Remember that one through four on the money list have
secured LPGA Tour membership. Also note that projected money does not account for ties and is unofficial.

Based on projections, Pavarisa Yoktuan and Laura Gonzalez Escallon would slid into the top 10 and Erica Popson and Clariss Guce would move out.

Current Money Thursday Projected Final Money (Position)
#5 Dana Finkelstein
$74,757 E, 71 (T31)
$76,544 (6)
#6 Marissa Steen
$72,496 +5, 76 (T90)
$72,496 (7)
#7 Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong $68,760
-4, 67 (T5) $77,617 (5)
#8 Peiyun Chien
$67,577 +3, 74 (T66)
$67,577 (9)
#9 Clariss Guce
$65,334 +2, 73 (T56)
#10 Erica Popson
$64,985 +4, 75 (T83)
#11 Laura Gonzalez Escallon
$63,990 -2, 69 (T18)
$66,795 (10)
#12 Nelly Korda
$63,905 +1, 72 (T42)
#13 Augusta James
$60,321 +1, 72 (T42)
#14 Sophia Popov
$58,892 -2, 69 (T18)
#15 Pavarisa Yoktuan
$51,183 -6, 65 (T2)
$70,546 (8)
#16 Erynne Lee
$50,267 +4, 75 (T83)
#17 Brittany Benvenuto
$49,631 +3, 74 (T66)
#18 Natalie Sheary
$42,134 +4, 75 (T83)
#19 Jessica Wallace
$40,963 -4, 67 (T5)
#20 Paola Moreno
$38,284 -2, 69 (T18)
#21 Dottie Ardina
$38,195 +1, 72 (T42)
#22 Shannon Fish
$36,102 -1, 70 (T25)
#23 Therese O’Hara
$35,930 -3, 68 (T11)


Click here for the leaderboard


Written By: Symetra Tour Communications


Photo Credit: Scott A. Miller