Monday, October 1, 2018



LONGWOOD, Fla. — Entering the final round of the fifth annual IOA Golf Classic at Alaqua Country Club, Ruixin Liu (Dalian, China) trailed by one shot, but a string of three consecutive birdies from Nos. 14-16 helped land her in the winner’s circle for the second time this year. 

Liu finished the tournament at 14-under par overall after a closing 4-under par 67 that featured five birdies and only one bogey.

“It was an amazing week for me and being able to win for a second time this year is thrilling,” said Liu. “I didn’t really picture this before I started today because there was a lot of girls that are pretty strong in the front. I’m really proud of what I did.”

In late June, the second-year Symetra Tour professional won the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club. She also came away with a one-stroke victory in Harris, Mich., but this time around her game is in a different place.

“I think I’m actually playing much better right now,” Liu said. “To know I’ve improved a lot since last year and show that I can do this a second time is extra credit for me and my team. It’s an awesome reward for all of us.”

At one point on the back nine, five players were tied for the lead at 12-under par overall. That’s when Liu made her move.

“After birdie on No. 14, I was 13-under par and saw the leaderboard that [Dana and] I led by one, so I got a little nervous because everyone was really tight,” said Liu. “Then I birdied Nos. 15 and 16, so after that I knew I was there and had to play well the next two holes, for par and just relax.”

With her father Zuoyi on the bag and mother Zhengzi in attendance, Liu did just that.

“They give me a lot of support,” Liu said. “My mom does all the cooking for us and eating good is a really big part on the road. My dad gave me support along the way on the course and I’m very thankful for everything they did for me.”

Meanwhile, three individuals tied for second including Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines), Simin Feng (Beijing, China) and Liu’s playing parter in the final pairing Dana Finkelstein (Chandler, Arizona).

“Congratulations to Ruixin, she played great and had three-in-a-row on the back nine that really kind of sealed it for her,” said Finkelstein, who held the 36-hole advantage. “I tried to give it my all and putts weren’t falling, ball striking was a little off. Just really couldn’t get it going like I did the first two days, but I’m happy with how I did and it puts me in a good position heading into next week.”

The official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour concludes the 2018 season in Daytona Beach, Fla. with the Symetra Tour Championship from Oct. 4-7 on the Jones Course of LPGA International. Following the event, the top-10 in the Volvik Race for the Card will earn full LPGA membership for the 2019 season, while Nos. 11-30 will be exempt into Q-Series. 

Joining Dottie Ardina and Ruixin Liu in securing their LPGA Tour card for 2019 is Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland), who has recorded 12 top-25 finishes this season including a win and eight top-10 results. 

The most recent came today at Alaqua Country Club where Meadow tied for eighth at 8-under par overall in the IOA Golf Classic. The performance was highlighted by a bogey-free, 4-under par 67 final round.

“Amazing, it has been a lot of hard work and realizing that it has paid off is crazy,” said Meadow, one of three players in the current Volvik Race for the Card top-10 to play in all 20 events so far this year. “You never quite know and don’t want to get too excited. It’s really cool, really cool.”

What makes the occasion extra special is that Meadow’s father Robert would have celebrated his 67th birthday earlier this month. Born on September 17, 1951, he passed away in May of 2015 after a short battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Robert was Meadow’s inspiration when it came to pursuing the game of golf. 

“I think my dad would be very proud, it was his birthday a couple weeks ago,” Meadow said. “I think that’s a pretty awesome birthday present. I’m just really happy that I get a second chance because I came down here and had to work my way back.”

Meadow lost her LPGA Tour membership for the 2018 season after suffering a stress fracture in her lower back last year. When she was set to take a medical exemption, it was too late to regain even partial status.

In her first start as a professional, Meadow finished solo third at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Having spent this year on the Symetra Tour to build her strength, she is right on track to showcase that same form on the big stage once again. 

“I won’t be a rookie and have already learned a lot of things from being out there before,” said Meadow. “I’m hoping I can use that to help me perform to my ultimate potential next year. I’ve been through a lot the last few years and I’m so glad I have such outstanding support from Investec, Ireland Golf, my family and boyfriend. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without them.”

Following the 20th tournament of the 2018 Symetra Tour season, the Volvik Race for the Card saw plenty of shifting within the top-10.

The victory and $22,500 winner’s check helped Ruixin Liu maintain her position at No. 2 with $91,089 through 20 events played. Here is a look at the current top-10 heading into the 11th annual Symetra Tour Championship on the Jones Course at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. from Oct. 4-7, the final tournament on the 2018 Symetra Tour calendar:

  1. Dottie Ardina - $94,954
  2. Ruixin Liu - $91,089
  3. Linnea Ström (Hovas, Sweden) - $66,463
  4. Stephanie Meadow - $66,395
  5. Elizabeth Szokol (Winnetka, Illinois) - $63,882
  6. Charlotte Thomas (Guildford, England) - $59,242
  7. Pavarisa Yoktuan (Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand) - $58,482
  8. Dana Finkelstein - $57,751
  9. Min Seo Kwak (Seoul, Republic of Korea) - $57,571
  10. Kendall Dye (Edmond, Oklahoma) - $57,263

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