Launched in 1981, as the Tampa Bay Mini Tour, the Futures Tour will play the $65,000 tournament at East Lake Woodlands Golf & Country Club Friday through Sunday, March 26-28.
'The Tour has its roots in Florida, specifically in Tampa, and its a great market for womens golf,' said Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officers of the Futures Tour.
East Lake Woodlands last hosted the Futures Tour in 1988. The Tours return to the challenging South Course will bring together a full field of 144 players from 26 nations, competing in the 54-hole event. The winner of the tournament will earn a first-place paycheck worth $9,100.
At least one player in the field will have home-course advantage. Jenny Gleason of Clearwater, Fla., will be the local favorite at East Lake Woodlands Golf & Country Club. Gleason works in the clubs pro shop and is a Futures Tour member this summer.
Heading up the field this week will be last years tournament champion Colleen Cashman-McSween of Plantation, Fla., who won at Rogers Park Golf Course, site of the 2003 event. Her title will be challenged by 2003 tournament winner Stephanie George of Myerstown, Pa., along with Futures Tour veterans Lisa (Strom) Fernandes of Huntersville, N.C., and Michele Fuller of Jupiter, Fla., -- both runners-up at events last season.
Kimberly Adams of Tide Head, New Brunswick, winner of the season-opening Lakeland Futures Golf Classic two weeks ago, also will be in the field. Seon-Hwa Lee of Chonan, Korea, the rookie who finished second in Lakeland, will be looking for her first Futures Tour title. She won twice on the Korean LPGA Tour prior to joining the Futures Tour.
Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, who played collegiately at Arizona State University and was runner-up at the 1999 U.S. Womens Amateur Championship, has rejoined the Futures Tour this season and will play in Tampa. The non-exempt LPGA Tour member won her professional debut in 2002 at the M&T Bank Loretto Futures Golf Classic in Syracuse, N.Y., and spent most of the 2003 season attempting to Monday-qualify for LPGA Tour events. Kang will face Korean compatriot and Futures Tour rookie Naree Song of Seoul and Bangkok, who enters her second Futures tournament after launching her pro career at the Lakeland Futures Golf Classic. At age 17, Song is the Tours youngest member this year.
Amateur Brittany Lincicome of Seminole, Fla., will join the field of professionals in Tampa. The Clearwater-area teen also joined the field in the Lakeland Futures Golf Classic. She was the St. Petersburg Times Player of the Year for 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.
And appearing in her first Futures Tour event will be Beverly Klass of Boynton Beach, Fla., who played on the LPGA Tour for 13 years. The 47-year-old veteran touring/teaching pro received nationwide coverage when she turned professional at age 10, prompting the LPGA Tour to set age requirements for membership at 18.
The Vincent Reid Foundation, which serves developmentally disabled individuals from ages 6-22, will be the tournaments charity. Founded in 2000, the foundation offers life skills training for greater independence.