Selena Costabile learns from self evaluation and Alena Sharp for Epson Tour success
Selena Costabile (PGA of Canada)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Selena Costabile was making plans to play in the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic when she got a message from a familiar name: Alena Sharp.
The two Canadians had met at the LPGA Tour’s Q Series last winter. When Sharp saw that Costabile would be playing in the Epson Tour event in Mesa, Ariz., she decided to reach out to the younger golfer. Sharp, who lives with her wife Sarah Bowman in Arizona, suggested Costabile could stay with them for the duration of the tournament.
“I’m so grateful that I have that kind of friendship and I’m able to ask her questions, bounce ideas off of her,” said the 23-year-old Costabile on Wednesday. “Her and Sarah both are amazing people and it’s no surprise why she’s been able to be so successful.”
Sharp, who has been a fixture on the LPGA Tour since 2005, said that Canadians on the men’s and women’s circuits tend to stick together. She wanted to help Costabile and continue to foster that sense of community among Canada’s golfers.
“I think it’s important because Tour life can be pretty lonely,” said the 41-year-old Sharp, who is from Hamilton.
“I mean, yeah, we’re competitive, but we want to see each other do well and it’s not so cutthroat.”
Costabile, from Thornhill, Ont., is in her second full year on the Epson Tour. She said that between the two seasons she did a self-evaluation of her game and recognized she needed to work on her mental performance and how to manage her time around events.
Spending time with Sharp and Bowman helped Costabile immensely with that education. In particular, Costabile admires Sharp’s perseverance.
“Golf can beat you up in so many different ways but as long as you have the drive and the passion for it and the will to just keep going and pick yourself up and keep trying, I think the sky’s the limit,” said Costabile. “You can you can do anything you set your mind to and that’s really been clear from what I’ve seen through Alena.”
Costabile’s off-season self-evaluation has seemingly paid off this year.
In 2021, she played in 15 Epson Tour events and made four cuts, but this season she’s made the cut in all three events she’s played in.
She tied for 56th at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic on March 4, tied for 35th at the Arizona Women’s Golf Classic on March 17, then tied for 20th at the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic on March 31. The Epson Tour is in the midst of a two-week break, but she plans to return for the Copper Rock Championship on April 21 in Hurricane, Utah.
“I think just the mindset of being a little bit more prepared once the tournament comes was huge for me,” said Costabile. “During the winter I placed more importance on being more calm out there and having a little bit more of a steady mind, It’s been paying off so far.”
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 04: Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Canada plays her shot off the fourth tee during the second round of the 76th U.S. Women's Open Championship at The Olympic Club on June 04, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Rebecca Lee-Bentham made it a priority to recharge in the off season and now the long Canadian National Team member feels rejuvenated and is focused on having a successful season on the golf course.
“During the offseason I did a little bit of coaching at a new golf facility in Los Angeles called The City Golf. I went on a couple golf trips to play some of the courses on my bucket list – Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay, Spyglass, and Shadow Creek,” Lee-Bentham revealed, adding that she made it a priority to slow down and focus on her mental and physical health.
Born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area, Lee-Bentham was an amateur standout who first joined Golf Canada’s National Team Program in 2007. The former Canadian Junior Girls champion and honour roll student would go on to earn a golf scholarship to the University of Texas.
Shortly after winning the Canadian Women’s Amateur in July of 2011, she decided to forego her remaining years at the NCAA DI university to chase down her childhood dream of competing on the LPGA Tour. And the Longhorn alum was able to realize that dream when she secured full playing status at the LPGA Q-School tournament later that year.
“She was a good classmate. I’m excited to see another Longhorn doing something big. I’m proud of her and I wish her a lot of success,” said NBA star Tristan Thompson at the time upon learning about his former classmate’s big achievement.
Lee-Bentham entered her rookie season on the LPGA Tour as a bright eyed 19-year-old in 2012 along with Maude-Aimée Leblanc.
In her sophomore season, she was the top earning Canadian on the LPGA Tour and was named by Canadian golf writers as the 2013 Female Professional Golfer of the Year.
However, nagging injuries and the constant grind would lead to inconsistent results over the next few years and Lee-Bentham decided to retire in the summer of 2016.
After stepping away from the competitive side of the game, Lee-Bentham stepped into the coaching side of the sport.
“Mentally speaking, when you do something over and over under a lot of pressure, it becomes stressful and the joy can be lost. Sometimes you just need a little break to realize the love you have for the game and you begin to appreciate the skill that you worked so hard to develop,” she said.
And in 2019, with a new found appreciation of the sport, the former LPGA pro decided to relocate to Irvine, California in order to make a return to competitive golf.
Derek Ingram – the former women’s national team head coach, and currently, the men’s national team head coach – believes Lee-Bentham has unfinished business on the golf course.
“Rebecca needed to step back and remember why she played the game and what it was all about. I personally feel she is a top 60 player in the world or better when she is engaged and practicing the right way,” he said upon learning about her return to competitive golf back in 2019.
Besides Ingram and Thompson, there are many supporters in her corner that believe Lee-Bentham still has what it takes to play the game at the highest level.
Recently, she was awarded the 2021 GJAC Women’s Player Bursary to support her in quest.
“I really appreciate the extra support from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada and Mackenzie Investments. I’m grateful to receive the bursary that will help cover a bit of the expenses this upcoming season,” she said.
Lee-Bentham will also be receiving support from Golf Canada as it was recently announced that she will be a rejoining the Young Pro Squad for 2022. The long time National Team member is grateful for all the support she has received from Golf Canada throughout her career.
“Golf Canada gives their players the support that is needed to get onto the Tour. Along with financial support, they have a team of coaches and trainers to guide players from the junior level to life as a professional golfer,” Lee-Bentham noted
“There are a lot of costs associated to making it onto the tour and even more once you get on tour such as paying your way into Q-School, having a training facility and golf course to practice at, equipment, coaching, travel costs, caddie fees, tournament entry fees, and the list goes on,” she continued.
“I believe having funding and support is crucial to any player’s success on tour. Golf is an individual sport but it requires a team, alongside the player, to make it to the top.”
Lee-Bentham will be competing on the Epson Tour this year with the goal of taking her talents back onto the LPGA Tour.
“Ironically, before I started playing golf, my dad worked for Epson as an electronic engineer and retired early to support my golf career. What Epson is doing for the women’s tour is amazing and a huge step in the direction we all want to see,” she pointed out.
Having first been introduced to the sport at the age of 12 by her dad, Ken Lee-Bentham, the former Canadian Women’s Amateur Champion and former LPGA Tour pro is celebrating a special milestone this month as she is turning 30 years old.
“As the years go by, there are more and more things to look back on and be grateful for. I’m constantly in awe when I think about where this game has taken me and all the opportunities I’ve been blessed with. At the same time there is more to life than just golf, so I am reminded to find balance and prioritize the things that matter to me the most,” said Lee-Bentham.
As the Young Pro Squad member prepares to start her season, she feels rejuvenated and is mentally prepared to celebrate a successful year ahead.
“My goal this season is to finish Top 10 on the money list on the Epson Tour and have a tournament win. I would also love to qualify for the US Women’s Open again and earn a spot into another LPGA event,” she said.”I’m approaching this year with the mindset that I’m just going to learn, improve each week and enjoy having the opportunity to compete and do what I love.”
LPGA has new sponsor, big commitment for developmental tour
(From left) Epson VP Kevin Garton and VP Kendra Jones; LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan; Epson President and CEO Keith Kratzberg; Epson VP Dan Murphy
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) – The LPGA Tour has a new title sponsor for its developmental tour that will boost prize money, award $10,000 to each of the leading 10 players that graduate to the LPGA Tour and seek to eventually cut entry fees in half.
Epson America has a five-year deal with the LPGA Tour that runs through 2026.
The newly named Epson Tour, which is set to begin the first week of March in Florida, will announce its schedule in a few weeks.
“This ground-breaking partnership will provide expanded opportunities for the future stars of the game from around the globe to test their talent and take one step closer to realizing their dreams,” LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said.
The developmental tour enters its 42nd year of structured competition, and it has produced such future stars as Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Inbee Park and Nelly Korda. Nine players who started on the tour accounted for 12 victories last season on the LPGA Tour.
The LPGA’s deal with Symetra expired last year.
Japan-based Seiko Epson Corp., a global technology company, is the parent company of Epson America, based in California.
More than being the title sponsor of the main circuit that leads to the LPGA Tour, it will start the Epson Tour Ambassador Program, giving $10,000 to the 10 leading players to provide a financial boost as they start on the LPGA Tour.
The standard tournament prize money will be $200,000, another increase.
The commitment is believed to be roughly three times greater than the previous season.
The deal also includes Epson contributing money to lower entry fees by 10% each tournament for every player, which would amount to as much as a $1,000 savings for each player.
And through the Epson Tour DEI Partnership, the company and the LPGA are challenging at least four companies to join them by working to cut entry fees from $500 to $250. Participating companies would receive Pro-Am spots and advertising at every Epson Tour event.
“We don’t only want to put our name on the Epson Tour. We want to find ways to invest in players chasing their dream of the LPGA Tour and support them once that dream becomes a reality,” said Kendra Jones, Epson America’s vice president of legal affairs and general counsel.
Maddie Szeryk secures LPGA Tour status through Qualifying Series
Fred Weston/ LPGA
After eight gruelling rounds, the 2021 LPGA Tour Qualifying Series has come to an end. In all, 46 players, including Canadian Maddie Szeryk, finished at -4 or better to secure Tour status for 2022.
Szeryk shot a personal-best 4-under 68 in the final round of the Q-Series with crucial birdies on her final two holes to finish T35. The 25-year old – who has played on the Symetra Tour since 2019 – competed in 18 events during the 2021 season with a best finish of T22 at the Copper Rock Championship in April.
Szeryk will join fellow Canadians Brooke Henderson and Maude–Aimée Leblanc on the LPGA Tour circuit next season, which will include the 2022 CP Women’s Open, August 22-28 at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.
Two other Canadians who advanced to the final four Q-Series rounds, missed out on the top-45 and ties cut line. Selena Costabile of Thornhill, Ont. finished T68, and Hamilton native Alena Sharp finished T69. Both women will receive Symetra Tour playing status for the 2022 season.
Over the course of the two-week tournament, 110 LPGA Tour hopefuls competed in two 72-hole stroke play events with the low 70 players and ties cut after week one. Scores then carried over into week two held at Highland Oaks Golf Course in Dothan, Ala. from Dec. 9-12.
After the conclusion of all eight rounds of the Q-Series, players who finished inside the top 45 and ties received LPGA Tour membership and playing status for the 2022 season. Players finishing outside the top-20 and ties also received 2022 Symetra Tour playing status.
For complete results and full leaderboard click here.
Brittany Marchand announced today that she will be stepping away from professional golf. The 29 year-old announced the decision to retire following the conclusion of the 2021 Symetra Tour season which wrapped up on Oct. 10.
In 2021, Marchand competed in 18 Symetra Tour events with a season-best finish of T3 at the Carolina Golf Classic in Greensboro, N.C. During her career on the Symetra Tour, the Orangeville, Ont. native would earn nine top 10 finishes including a victory at the 2017 PHC Classic.
In 2017 she finished T32 at the 2017 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 17 status for the 2018 season. She spent two years on the LPGA Tour where she competed at the CP Women’s Open three times (2017, 2018, 2019) with her best finish being T30 in 2017.
As a member of Team Canada for eight years total, Marchand joined the Development Squad in 2011, competed as a member of the Amateur Squad from 2015 – 2017, and joined the Young Pro Squad from 2018 – 2021.
She’s amassed more than $148K in career earnings since 2016 and currently ranks No. 772 on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
Marchand played collegiate golf at North Carolina State University where she was a three-time All-ACC selection, WGCA All-American in 2014, and continues to own the school record for most career wins with three. While competing in NCAA golf, she also completed a degree in chemical engineering to continue pursuing her passions for both golf and science.
Marchand credits her grandfather in sparking her interest in the game when he joined her to Brampton Golf and Country Club at age seven and taught her how to play. During her career she’s been able to pay it forward by acting as an ambassador for multiple youth-in-sport programs, including Golf Canada’s Golf in Schools program.
Golf Canada wishes Brittany all the best in her future endeavors.
Click here for more information on Brittany Marchand’s career highlights.
Maude-Aimee Leblanc clinches top 10 spot for her 2022 LGPA Tour card
Greensborough, N.C. – Quebec native Maude Aimee Leblanc received a pleasant surprise on Thursday morning – notice that she had clinched a top 10 spot on this year’s Symetra Tour standings, gaining playing privileges for the 2022 LGPA season. The news reached Leblanc at Forest Oaks Country Club where she is currently competing in the second annual Carolina Golf Classic.
“I am glad they told me, it took a big load off. That was my goal all year so to make it happen is really great,” said Leblanc. “[Golf] is a love-hate relationship. It’s tough and really hard to describe.”
Just three seasons ago Leblanc announced her decision to step away from golf professionally. It was the unprecedented year of 2020 that brought her back to the links and the Symetra Tour with a fresh perspective and a reignited passion for the sport.
With 18 tournaments already in the books on the Symetra Tour, the top 10 underwent some shifting after the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout which wrapped up Sept. 26. Leblanc is the fifth golfer to secure her spot, with five additional cards remaining to be claimed.
After the conclusion of round 1, Leblanc sits T4 at a score of six under par. Round 2 of the 72-hole stroke play tournament continues today.
For updated scores from the Carolina Golf Classic, click here.
DAYTONA BEACH, FL. – The second round of the Symetra Tour Championship was suspended at 1:50 p.m. EDT on Friday due to severe weather in Daytona Beach, Fla. near the Jones Course at LPGA International. Five groups from the morning wave have yet to finish, while the entire afternoon wave at least started the second round.
Race for the Card hopeful Brittany Marchand finished her second round at 10 under, moving up into 5th from her round 1 position of T64.
“It was great to have a bogey-free round and see a lot of putts drop today. Great confidence going into the weekend. I definitely feel like I’m going off momentum from [the T3 finish] last week. My game is in a good place right now and it’s helpful that I’ve played this course multiple times. Today, I just hit a lot of shots close and made a lot more putts compared to yesterday.”
Maude-Aimee Leblanc is sitting at 9 under after completing her round with an eagle on 18. The Sherbrooke, Que. native has already secured her LPGA Tour card sitting 5th on the Symetra money list. Additional Canadians in the field include Maddie Szeryk and Jaclyn Lee at T47, Selena Costabile at T61, and Rebecca Lee-Bentham at T81. Lee-Bentham completed the first hole before play suspended and will finish her round tomorrow when play resumes.
Competition is set to resume tomorrow at 8 a.m. and the third round will begin no earlier than 1:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Brittany Marchand finishes T3 at Carolina Golf Classic
Brittany Marchand (Zhe Ji/ Getty Images)
LPGA Tour Communications
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Coming into the first round, Sophia Schubert was No. 9 in the Race for the Card. She had already claimed eight top-10 finishes, five of which came in the last five events, but a win could help her do it all.
Playing the last 18 holes with Fatima Fernandez Cano, who has already clinched her card, as well as Amanda Doherty, who entered the week at No. 10, competition was high all day long. Fernandez Cano and Schubert dialed throughout the day and both birdied No. 18 to finish at -18 and head to a playoff. Three playoff holes later, Schubert rolled in an eagle putt to win a trophy, a check, her first win and clinch her spot in the Race for the Card top 10.
“I have so many emotions right now and I’m just so happy and so grateful to have been in this position this week. I’ve worked really hard leading up to this season and I had a lot of expectations for myself, I was able to accomplish all of my goals this year and so I’m just really happy,” said Schubert. “I wouldn’t have been able to do without my support team back home my family my friends my coaches trainer sponsors and I’m just so so grateful I think is the biggest thing I’ve worked really hard for this and just to finally be able to have it not only a win but also get my LPGA card just means so much.”
The University of Texas alumna can now add professional winner to her resume along with 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and 2018 Curtis Cup and Arnold Palmer champion. But even prior to nationwide amateur events, Schubert started her career as a little girl and participated in the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. When she saw 2020 U.S. Kids World champion Adelyn Rosago and Autumn Solesbee with all eyes on her, Schubert’s career came full circle right in front of her eyes.
“I can remember when I was their age out there watching and we would go to professional events and I’d always say I want to be out there one day it was always a dream of mine since I was 4 or 5 years old,” said Schubert. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet that I’m actually there now but to be able to see them and talk to them just brought back so many memories.”
Determined to tie a bow on the season with a win, Fernandez Cano was frustrated with today’s outcome. Despite the loss, she was happy to see a fellow competitor claim her spot and join her in this year’s graduating class from the Symetra Tour.
“It is frustrating, but it was good. I honestly was playing really well. I gave myself I think the first 7 holes I had it maybe 4 or 5 inside 6 feet that I just couldn’t make so that was kind of frustrating, but I stayed with it,” said Fernandez Cano. “I was so close, but it just wasn’t for me out there. I am really happy for Sophia; I mean she is clearly a really good player and she had a great day out there today.”
Canadian Brittany Marchand finished T3 alongside Emilia Migliaccio, each sitting at -17.
With only one tournament left for the season and four spots left to claim in the top 10 of the Race for the Card, take a look at the current standings:
1. Lilia Vu (Fountain Valley, California) - $156,615
The Symetra Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 41st competitive season in 2021. With the support of entitlement partner Symetra, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. Since Symetra’s inaugural sponsorship year in 2012, the Symetra Tour has grown from 16 tournaments and $1.7 million in prize money to $4.0 million in prize money awarded in 2019 and 2021. With more than 600 alumnae moving on to the LPGA, former Symetra Tour players have won a total of 445 LPGA titles. Follow the Symetra Tour on the web at www.SymetraTour.com, as well as Facebook.com/Road2LPGA, Twitter.com/Road2LPGA and Instagram @road2lpga.
Golf Canada Foundation Announces Bursaries for 2021-2022 Q-School
CP Womens Open at Magna Golf Club on August 23 2019 in Aurora, Ontario.
(Photo: Gary Yee)
The Golf Canada Foundation has opened applications for bursaries to provide Canadian professional golfers with financial assistance for upcoming Q-school tournaments in support their journeys to the LPGA and PGA TOUR.
These bursaries are being made available this year in recognition of the increased travel expenses that many players have incurred due to the impact of COVID-19. For example, host family housing has not been available at many events, thus creating increased expenses for players.
Canadian professional golfers who anticipate expenses attempting to qualify for the 2021-2022 season on any tour that is affiliated with the PGA TOUR, European Tour, or LPGA tour are welcomed to apply through this link.
The application will be open until Monday, September 20 at 5pm ET. Bursaries will be awarded by mid-October in amounts ranging from $2,000 to $7,000, depending on a player’s competitive results and projected expenses.
Maude-Aimee Leblanc finishes second at Symetra Tour event
ANN ARBOR, MI - MAY 25: Maude-Aimee Leblanc, of Canada, watches her tee shot on the fifth hole during the second round of the LPGA Volvik Championship on May 25, 2018 at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HARRIS, MICH. – Canadian golfer Maude-Aimee Leblanc posted her third second-place finish of the season at the Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship on Sunday in Harris, Mich.
Leblanc, from Sherbrooke, Que., led by three entering the third and final round before finishing one stroke behind Morgane Metraux of Switzerland.
Metraux fired a 5-under 67 in the the final round to improve to 17 under overall, while Leblanc settled for a 71.
Leblanc is now fourth in the tour standings.
The top 10 at season’s end earn LPGA Tour cards for next season.
Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Richmond Hill, Ont., tied for 40th, Valerie Tanguay of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., tied for 49th and Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., was 67th.