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Windsor Golf Club prepares to host POC MED Golf Classic

After a two-decade hiatus, professional golf is returning to Windsor in April.

The 54-hole women's POC MED Golf Classic tees off April 7 at Windsor Golf Club, a new tournament on the Symetra Tour, tour and club officials announced Wednesday.

Symetra, the official qualifying tour for the Ladies Professional Golf Association, expanded its season by adding a third West Coast tournament this year. Windsor was selected late last year to give Symetra a total of 21 events.

Initially the commitment to Windsor is only for one year, because the seed money comes from a partnership with the Taiwan LPGA, which wanted to sponsor a third tournament in the western U.S.

But Windsor town and tour officials are optimistic it can become an annual affair.

“It is a one-year event because of the relationship with the TLPGA, but we don't go through all this effort to put on these events one time,” said Mike Nichols, chief business officer for Symetra.

Symetra is the top qualifying tour for the LGPA, the world's top pro golf tour for women. Its top finishers advance to the LPGA each year, giving golf fans the opportunity to see up-and-coming golf stars perform.

Windsor Mayor Deb Fudge highlighted the town's reputation as a sports- and family-friendly locale.

“We plan to roll out the red carpet and will plan several welcome events on the town green,” she said. “We plan to earn our stripes so the tournament comes here year after year after year.”

Windsor hosted the men's Hogan Tour (later called the Nike Tour and Web.com) from 1990 to 1995, a similar qualifying tour for the PGA. This will be the first time Symetra has played in Northern California since 2001, at Diablo Grande in Patterson.

“This town gets behind events and we are committed to making this one very special,” said Richard Coombs, a co-owner of the Windsor club.

A field of 144 golfers from as many as 25 countries will compete for part of the $100,000 tournament purse, including Alameda's Emily Childs. The winner takes home $15,000. Sixteen Taiwanese golfers will participate.

The top golfers over the course of the Symetra year automatically win their LPGA card and can compete around the world in the largest and most lucrative tournaments available.

“But we also provide the opportunity to young girls who haven't had the opportunity to play professional golf or even the idea that they could do it,” Nichols said.

In the tour's top 10 golfers, five countries are represented, he said. Tour's 300 or so members represent 45 countries, demonstrating the sport's popularity around the globe.

“This is going to be an international golf event coming to Windsor, and also a local event with 44 players coming from California,” Nichols said.

The Windsor event will be the fourth event of the 2017 season and the final of the three western tournaments.

A pro-am scramble on April 6 will include as many as 25 teams of three amateur golfers paired with a pro who will compete in a one-round scramble for charity. Sponsors can designate which local charity a portion of their contribution will go.

Event officials will need about 150 volunteers to help run the event over the course of the week, and more to provide host housing to golfers.

POC MED, Point of Care Medical Systems Inc., is a Livermore-based tech company that creates accessible, next-generation medical diagnostics, including one to help detect breast cancer early.

Symetra, a spinoff of Safeco, is a financial services company based out of Seattle that has committed to sponsoring the 37-year-old tour until 2021.

The tour plays in 13 states with tournaments that pay out from $100,000 to $210,000 in winnings. The average winner's score last year was 68.7. Symetra Tour graduates have won eight LPGA majors since 2013 and 64 players are in the field for the LPGA season opener in the Bahamas this year.

Purses for the tour are at an all-time high, totaling $3.2 million in prize money last year. Four players made over $80,000 last year, including Madelene Sagstrom, who became the first player in tour history to crack the six-figure mark, winning $167,064. Also breaking the previous earnings mark ($94,578 were Ally McDonald ($110,359) and Jackie Stoelting ($97,886.)

You can reach Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

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