Symetra Tour | Tough course awaits plethora of budding stars

jdill@bradenton.comApril 24, 2014 

MANATEE -- This week's LPGA Symetra Tour stop at Sara Bay Country Club will give players the chance to battle it out on a top-notch layout that will test their skill in a variety of ways.

But what the Donald Ross-designed course primarily will assess is which player's short game and putting is up to snuff.

"The worst place to miss is long of the green," said swing instructor Jon Bullas, who has three students in this week's field. "You just can't miss long, and then there are a couple holes that you can't miss pin-high as well. So generally speaking ... you've got to be patient and try to make some good up-and-downs."

Last year, Christine Song bested Isabelle Boineau in a playoff, helping Song earn her 2014 LPGA Tour card after finishing in the top 10 of the Volvik Race for the Card standings at the conclusion of the Symetra Tour season.

It was the second edition of the tournament and first under Guardian Retirement sponsorship.

Both Song and Esther Choe, the inaugural tournament champion, found LPGA Tour cards waiting for them after winning the Sara Bay tourney.

So who could garner that attention this year?

Here are five players to watch:

• Laura Gonzalez Escallon

The Belgian came to the Symetra Tour with a pedigree of solid golf. Gonzalez Escallon won on the Ladies European Tour as an amateur and was named to the Big Ten's first team each of her four years at Purdue. This season, she has logged two top 10 finishes, which

have come in her past two starts. In fact, she's made the cut in every tournament this season.

• Cheyenne Woods

The surname should give you a hint as to what kind of talent the Wake Forest grad possesses. Tiger Woods' niece won the Australian Ladies Masters earlier this year, but has found the going a bit rougher in her rookie Symetra Tour season. Cheyenne Woods has three under-par rounds, with one top 20 finish entering this week's event.

• Yueer Cindy Feng

What a start it has been for the Orlando-area rookie. Feng has collected more than $25,000 in earnings so far to rank atop the money list this season. She has won one tournament, while notching three top 10 finishes that showcase how consistent her game has been.

Feng also has a bit of a history with Sara Bay, having recorded a scorching 67 in 2010 during a Florida Junior Tour event -- one of the lowest 18-hole rounds in the FJT's girls 16-18-year-old division's history.

• Hannah Yun

A former University of Florida standout, Yun has ties to Bradenton as a former Bradenton Prep student and IMG Academy trainee. She also has a steady golf game going at the moment. Yun snagged second place in the last Symetra Tour tournament, the IOA Golf Classic, at the end of March. That performance, which featured a 6-under-par 65 in the second round, vaulted her inside the top 10 on the money list.

• Isabelle Boineau

Last year's tournament at Sara Bay was a glistening week for Boineau, who fell just shy of hoisting the trophy. The French native was nipped by Song in a playoff after the two were deadlocked after 54 holes.

It also was Boineau's best finish to date and her largest payday during the 2013 season. While her form has been off -- she missed the cut in her lone 2014 Symetra Tour start -- Boineau could rekindle the magic from last year's event in this week's tournament.

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