For several individuals in the 144-player Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic field, this week has been about more than getting ready for another Symetra Tour event; it has involved chasing dreams.
A total of 37 players that eventually made their way to The Links at Stoney Point Golf Club first stopped at Dunwoody Country Club, just outside of Atlanta, on Mondayto compete in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open Sectional Qualifying Round. One day, 36 holes and four spots up for grabs.
Medalist honors belonged to current Symetra Tour player Christine Song (Fullerton, California). She fired 70-70 to finish at 4-under par overall.
“Honestly I didn’t even have my A-game, and I was pretty surprised myself,” Song said after qualifying for the U.S Women’s Open for a third time in her career. “It’s going to be kind of tiring because we have to travel a lot, but I’m really excited for it.”
Another current Symetra Tour standout Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) finished tied for second with 2017 Symetra Tour graduate Katelyn Dambaugh(North Charleston, South Carolina), both just one shot back of Song.
“It was extremely exhausting, but I’m very excited to play in this year’s U.S. Open,” said Dambaugh, a LPGA Tour rookie. “It has always been a dream to play in this event. I haven’t been playing well all year and this really helps give me a little confidence boost going forward.”
The final qualifying spot came down to a three-way sudden-death playoff between another 2017 Symetra Tour graduate in Emma Talley (Princeton, Kentucky), Sophia Popov (Heidelberg, Germany) and Demi Runas (Torrance, California).
When the dust settled, it was Talley who punched her ticket to Alabama on the first playoff hole. Runas and Popov come out of the qualifier as the first and second alternate, respectively.
For Talley, the experience will be extra special. Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club, site of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, was the home course the last few years for the former University of Alabama four-time All-American.
“I have never been so nervous at a tournament and I have never wanted to play in a tournament so bad,” said Talley. “I love Shoal Creek so much. I am so excited to be back there.”
Song, Cheng, Dambaugh and Talley will now begin preparation for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open in Shoal Creek, Ala., from May 29-June 3.