11 area golfers look to earn spot on LPGA in Pinehurst

Laetitia Beck, who was a four-time All-ACC performer at Duke, is one of several players with ties to North Carolina who are trying to earn their way onto the LPGA Tour in this week’s Symetra Tour event at Pinehurst No. 9. (Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo)

The LPGA’s Symetra Tour comes to Pinehurst No. 9 this weekend for the inaugural Carolina Golf Classic.

The official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour, the Symetra Tour is in its 40th season. More than 600 golfers who competed on the qualifying tour eventually joined the LPGA, winning 445 LPGA tournaments.

The Carolina Golf Classic is the ninth stop on this year’s “Road to the LPGA.” The next class of five golfers to get promoted to the LPGA is determined after 10 events, so most of the top competitors on the Symetra Tour will be in Pinehurst as they jostle for position coming down the home stretch. Nine of the 10 leaders in the Race for the Card are scheduled to compete.

That includes Concord’s Anna Redding, currently in fourth place and on pace to earn a spot on the tour in her rookie year out of UVa.

Charlotte’s Laura Wearn is just outside the top 10, in 11th place. She has three career wins, including one this year, after finishing her college career at Furman.

Obviously, North Carolina will be heavily represented as it hosts this event.

A local company — Raleigh’s Junior Golf LIVE — will be involved in the broadcast of the event, including livestreaming the final few holes on Saturday afternoon and the awards ceremony.

“We are always looking for new ways to showcase the Symetra Tour and the outstanding play of our athletes to both current fans and new audiences,” said Mike Nichols, the chief business officer of the Symetra Tour. “What Junior Golf LIVE has been creating in this space with online streaming of amateur golf events seemed like something to explore as a potential solution for the future. If nothing else, it will be fun for these players to compete in front of a worldwide audience in the final tournament round, vying for the biggest purse of the season.”

The broadcast will include commentary from former UNC women’s golfer Leslie Cloots, who competed on the Symetra Tour as a pro.

Five North Carolinians will be competing in the Carolina Golf Classic. Only Florida and California (eight each) have more.

“Playing in my home state of N.C. to finish out the 2020 season means a lot,” said Charlotte’s Allison Emrey. “I grew up playing junior golf tournaments in Pinehurst and feel very comfortable there. I love the style and feel of the town and am excited to compete this week.”

Emrey played for Wake Forest, earning All-ACC and honorable mention All-American in 2015. In five years on the Symetra Tour, she’s had 12 top-10 finishes, including two this year.

Four other current or former Wake Forest golfers join Emrey in the tournament, more than any other college in the state.

Emilia Migliaccio will be a senior on this year’s Demon Deacons team. The Cary native is a two-time All-ACC and three-time All-American who is competing as an amateur in the Classic, thanks to a sponsor’s invitation.

Cheyenne Woods, Tiger’s niece, won the ACC championships as a Deac in 2011. She has two career top-10s, including one this season.

Nannette Hill was a three-time All-ACC at Wake and a second-team All-American in 2009. She played on the LPGA Tour from 2010 to 2013.

Sierra Sims was All-ACC and honorable mention All-America as a senior in 2017.

NC State has one former golfer in the field — Brittany Marchand. She was a three-time All-ACC golfer with the Wolfpack and held the school record with three tournament wins.

She’s already made the jump from Symetra to LPGA once, in 2017, and is trying to get back after spending two years on the top tour.

Two former Duke Blue Devils will compete. Laetitia Beck was a four-time All-ACC golfer with the Blue Devils and also made first-team All-American. She was the first golfer from Israel to qualify for the LGPA and competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She’s currently 19th on the Symetra money list.

One spot ahead of Beck on the list is Ana Belac, who has three top-10 finishes since turning pro on the tour in late July. She was a first-team All-American for Duke in 2020 and a two-time All-ACC player.

Burlington’s Lori Beth Adams rounds out the North Carolina college contingent. She was the 2013 CAA Golfer of the Year at UNC Wilmington and two-time All-CAA.

“It’s always nice playing in North Carolina representing UNCW. I love coming back to Pinehurst, feels like a second home to me,” Adams said. “I have family in Pinehurst, so it’s always a good time staying with them.”