June 21, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For four years, former Notre Dame golfers Becca Huffer (’12) and Noriko Nakazaki (’07) blistered the fairways and greens of the University’s renowned Warren Golf Course, covering nearly every inch of grass en route to all-conference and all-region honors. On Sunday, the Notre Dame alumnae will look to do the same across town on a larger stage at the Symetra Tour’s Four Winds Invitational.
Both Huffer and Nakazaki successfully navigated the first two rounds and safely made the 36-hole cut at the third annual event, which is being played at South Bend’s Blackthorn Golf Club (par 72, 6,419 yards). It’s the fourth time in six tournaments this year that Huffer has made the cut on the Symetra Tour (her best finish was a third-place tie at the season-opening Visit Mesa Gateway Classic back in February in Mesa, Ariz.), while Nakazaki made the cut for the third time in 2014 and is line for her best finish of the season (she placed 74th at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Charity Classic last month in Greenwood, S.C.).
Playing under largely ideal conditions on Saturday in South Bend, Huffer carded her second consecutive even-par round and is tied for 33rd place (72-72=144), nine strokes behind current Four Winds Invitational leader Lee Lopez. Huffer, who already has two top-20 finishes to her credit on the 2014 Symetra Tour, could challenge for a spot in the top 50 on the tour’s season money list with a strong tournament finish on Sunday.
Nakazaki started well in her second round with two birdies in the first three holes to find herself firmly entrenched among the first pages of the leaderboard. However, she found the going rough later in the day on Saturday, landing in a tie for 47th place at one-over par 145 (70-75).
The top 70 players (plus ties) have advanced to Sunday’s final round at the Four Winds Invitational, which will begin with a split-tee format in the morning due to the threat of severe weather later in the day.
Incoming Notre Dame freshman Kari Bellville (Granger, Ind./Mishawaka Penn) was not quite as fortunate as her fellow Fighting Irish golfers this weekend. Bellville, who competed in the Four Winds Invitational as an amateur on a sponsor’s exemption, did not make the cut after posting a two-round score of 17-over par 161 (78-83).
The Symetra Tour is the official developmental golf tour of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, and while the Symetra Tour doesn’t have designated “majors” like other professional tours, the Four Winds Invitational is considered one of the premier events on the circuit, due in part to its $150,000 total purse (second-largest on tour) and $22,500 first-place share (which could put the winner into the top 10 on the 2014 Symetra Tour money list and in position to possibly earn her LPGA Tour card in 2015).
Huffer and Nakazaki return to action Sunday for the final round of the Four Winds Invitational, with tee times and live scoring available online through the Symetra Tour’s web site, and fans in the area are encouraged to come out to Blackthorn Golf Club (6100 Nimtz Parkway in South Bend) and support these future stars of the LPGA Tour.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s golf program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s golf Twitter page (@NDwomensGolf) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director