Elizabeth climbs closer to LPGA on Symetra Tour
Maybe having two first names is an omen.
Long-hitting Victoria Elizabeth is looking to win her second consecutive Symetra Tour event and solidify her chances of earning an LPGA Tour card next season in the Credit Union Challenge, presented by SEFCU, Sunmark and BFB Benefits, today through Sunday at Capital Hills at Albany.
Top prize on the stop on the tour, formerly known as the Futures Tour, will be $15,000, with a total purse of $100,000.
Tickets are $10.
Elizabeth, 20, won her first Symetra Tour event last week at Drumlin’s in Syracuse and moved up from sixth place to second on the Symetra Tour money list. The top 10 players earn their LPGA Tour cards next season.
“It’s definitely been a good year for me so far,” said Elizabeth, a Dayton, Ohio, native who is in her third year on the Symetra Tour as a professional and fourth overall. She turned pro when she was only 16.
“I’ve been close all year [with two second-place finishes] before winning last week, and it’s really nice to finally win one. I’ve been really working hard on my short game — chipping, putting and omitting a lot of my mistakes. I’m hitting a lot smarter shots now.”
Elizabeth is fifth on the Symetra Tour in driving accuracy (82.4 percent) and is fifth in driving distance (253.0 yards).
“I’ve always been a long hitter, but hitting it long only gets you so far,” she said. “In junior golf, it was easier to get away with some errant shots if you hit it long. Out here, everyone is so good. You’ve got to be on top of your game in all respects.”
Elizabeth had a decorated junior golfing career with four wins on the AJGA tour in 2008, when she was named a Rolex Junior All-American honorable mention. She advanced to the Future Collegians World Tour, recording seven wins, and she was a two-time player of the year on that circuit. But she decided not to attend college and turned pro.
“I’ve had a few things in my personal life that have held me back,” she said. “It was a huge jump from the juniors to professional golf. I got a kick in the pants. I didn’t think it would be this hard. It’s a different game out here, and it took me longer to get where I wanted to be than I thought it would.”
But Elizabeth is almost there now.
“It took me a while to understand what I needed to do, and to be fully committed to what I was doing out here. I’d say it took me about two years to figure everything out,” she said.
“But this is what I really love to do. I’m happy that I’m No. 2 on the money list now, but my ultimate goal is to be No. 1. Then, I want to be the best golfer in the world.”
Representing the Capital Region will be Maite Cupp, an assistant pro at Saratoga Spa State Park. Other players with area ties include Nicole Hage (Amsterdam) and Jackie Barenborg (Niskayuna), whose fathers grew up and played varsity sports in the region.
Defending local Symetra Tour champion Sydnee Michaels and former area site champion Angela Buzmirski are also in the 144-player field. Eight of the top 10 players on the money list are competing.