News from Around Banderas Bay
|Cindy LaCrosee Wins Riviera Nayarit Challenge on LPGA Duramed Tour at EL Tigre|
Bob Cohen - PVNN
April 01, 2010
Famous for excellence in innovative design, von Hagge, Smelek and Baril's El Tigre, located in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, hosted the 2010 LPGA's first international full-field event, the Ladies Mexico Classic from March 22-28. This event, developed by Duramed Futures Tour and Carri Sports Marketing, "showcased our very talented players outside the United States," said Duramed CEO Zayra F. Calderon. "As the Tour continues to flourish, Mexico is a great platform to extend our reach and provide the citizens of Mexico the chance to see the LPGA stars of tomorrow and some of their own professionals compete for the largest purse on Tour."
|Graziano Sovernigo, General Director of the Paradise Village Group and Jesus Carmona, Director of Golf at El Tigre award a $21,000 USD check to 2010 champion Cindy LaCrosse. (Click to see video of opening night ceremonies)|
The $150,000 tournament featured a field of 144 players, including special invitees from Mexico. Carri Sports president Hugo Rivero Laing, said, "We are pleased to be part of bringing the Duramed Futures Tour to Mexico for the first time. With this joint effort between the Tour, El Tigre Golf and Country Club, our sponsors, and the government of Nayarit, Mexico, help to stimulate women's golf in Mexico and presented an enormous opportunity for Mexican players to compete alongside the Tour's great players."
|Cindy LaCrosse of the United States, winner of the Duramed Futures Tour LPGA Riviera Nayarit Challenge.|
Cindy LaCrosse of Tampa, Florida won the inaugural event with a bogey free final round of 5 under par 68 that gave her a one stroke victory at 10 over par 209 for the three round tournament. The 68 was the lowest round completed by any golfer. She edged out Jennie Lee of Henderson, Nevada who led after two rounds but could only manage to shoot a one under par 72 on Sunday after opening with two 69s. LaCrosse earned $21,000 USD for her victory. Mexican professional Tanya Dergal of Durango was just four strokes back heading into the final round at 4 under par but shot a disappointing 79 to finish 35th, and that was the highest finisher for a Mexican golfer.
The fledging Duramed Developmental Tour that has been an entry for female golfers to the LPGA Tour, began play in 1981 and was known as the Tampa Bay Mini Tour and officially became a Futures Tour in 1983. In 1999 it became the "official developmental tour of the LPGA. The top five money leaders at the end of the year were granted full membership on the LPGA Tour for the following year. In 2008 the ten highest money leaders gained full membership for the LPGA.
In 2006, Duramed became the tour's sponsor and there were 18 tournaments with an average total purse of $70,000 USD, all played in the United States. In 2008 the first total purse of $100,000 was played and just this past week in Nuevo Vallarta at El Tigre two new standards were surpassed. This was the first tournament played outside the U.S. and boasted the highest purse ever on the Tour.
Players that came from this tour to the LPGA are a gallery of some of golf's best. Tour graduates include Mexico's own and #1 in the world, Lorena Ochoa. In 2002 Lorena was not only the rookie of the year, but also player of the year. Ochoa is the career single season money leader, earning over $4 million in 2007. Other notables from the Futures tour are some of the best on the LPGA Tour. Laura Davies, Cristie Kerr, Grace Park and Karrie Webb, among others have collected many trophies and earned large purses. The recent dominance of South Korean women on the LPGA Tour came from the Duramed Futures Tour as they were players of the year in 1999 and 2004-2006.
On any given Sunday one can see any of these golfers collecting first prize in multi-million dollar tournaments. Maybe one day Cindy LaCrosee will be walking down the 18th fairway on the final round as the winner of the LPGA U.S. Open. For this one week at El Tigre in the Riviera Nayarit, just miles from Puerto Vallarta, however it doesn't get much better then this.