After successful two-year execution of Road to the #NWAChampionship, tournament continues to guarantee one University of Arkansas Female Golfer opportunity to play in annual LPGA event
The Road to the #NWAChampionship has been renewed for the 2017 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, officials announce today. The program began in 2015 as a partnership between the University of Arkansas Women’s Golf Team and the LPGA tournament to guarantee the best performing student-athlete on the team a Sponsor’s Exemption in the professional event. In addition, two qualifying spots are reserved for the next best performing Razorback athletes in the tournament’s qualifier round. The tournament is scheduled for June 19 – 25 this year, with the official qualifier taking place on Monday, June 19.
The Road to the #NWAChampionship began in an effort to formalize the process of selection for the sponsor’s exemption and qualifier spots that historically have been given to Razorback athletes. The success of the program over the last two years has far surpassed expectations, tournament officials say.
“What began as a way for us to simply formalize a process that we have essentially been doing since the start of the event, has had a greater impact on the tournament than we expected,” said Harry Hardy, tournament director. “The Razorback athletes really buy into the competition aspect and work hard in order to earn those spots. Through this, we’ve seen more Razorback athletes in our tournament field than ever and more Razorback sports fans coming out to watch the tournament.”
In 2016, Razorback Freshman Maria Fassi secured the Sponsor’s Exemption with a 72.56 Scoring Average. Teammates Alana Uriell and Regina Plasencia earned the opportunity to play in the Monday qualifier event and each secured official spots into the field as well. The three student athletes were joined by former Razorbacks Stacy Lewis and Gaby Lopez, rounding out the total number of Razorbacks in the 2016 field to five. In 2015, then-student athlete Gaby Lopez earned the sponsor’s exemption with teammate Samantha Marks joining her in the field through the Monday qualifier.
“The Road to #NWAChampionship has become one of our favorite traditions on the team,” explains Shauna Estes-Taylor, University of Arkansas Head Women’s Golf Coach. “The process inspires much more than great golf—it gives us an opportunity to hone skills our players will need in the future like writing and resume building. We thank the tournament for their ongoing support which year after year proves invaluable to our program”
The criteria for selection include team rankings and academic standing for the golfers. The top ranked University of Arkansas player as of May 11 is eligible for the sponsor’s exemption. The qualified player must write an official letter requesting invitation and be in good academic standing with the University. The second and third best stroke averages from the team’s competitive season will have an opportunity to Monday qualify for the official LPGA event.
Razorback sports fans can keep up to date with the Road to the #NWAChampionship by watching KNWA’s nightly news coverage.
Tickets for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G will go on sale March 1. For more information and tournament news, please visit www.nwachampionship.com.