Epson Tour, opening to Colombian Valery Plata

The Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, the first event of the Epson Tour season, concluded with a playoff, mirroring the outcome of the 2023 edition

by Andrea Gussoni
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Epson Tour, opening to Colombian Valery Plata
© Getty Images Sport - Dylan Buell / Stringer

The Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, the first event of the Epson Tour season, concluded with a playoff, mirroring the outcome of the 2023 edition. Colombian golfer Valery Plata (206 – 70 66 70, -10) emerged victorious, edging out Slovenian Ana Belac (210 – 68 68 70), who had caught up with two birdies on the last two holes.

Valery Plata, results

Played at the Country Club of Winter Haven (par 72) in Winter Haven, Florida, Australian Cassie Porter secured third place with 208 (-8), followed by Jenny Bae in fourth with 209 (-7), and a three-way tie for fifth at 210 (-6) featuring Canadian Alena Sharp, Taiwanese Heather Lin, and Finnish Kiira Riihijarvi.

Angelica and Benedetta Moresco both missed the cut, finishing tied for 117th with 152 (+8). Valery Plata, a talented amateur and 22-year-old Colombian born in Hialeah, Florida, and a graduate of Michigan State University, began her professional career by earning her LPGA Tour card through Qualifying School, finishing third.

However, her 2023 season saw limited success with only one cut made in 13 events. Returning to the LPGA Q-Series, she found herself on the Epson Tour, where she had previously played twice in 2023. In her third appearance, she became the first winner of the 2024 circuit, earning a prize of $37,500 from a total purse of $250,000.

The competition was founded in Florida in 1981 under the name Tampa Bay Mini Tour. It officially became known as the Futures Golf Tour in 1983 and starting from 1999, it was introduced as the official developmental tour of the LPGA Tour, the premier women's golf circuit in the United States.

Grace Park, Marilyn Lovander, and Audra Burks were the first players to automatically qualify for the LPGA Tour by finishing first, second, and third, respectively, in the Futures Golf Tour Money List. The minimum age to participate was lowered to 17 years old before the start of the 2006 season.

On July 18, 2007, the Ladies Professional Golf Association announced the acquisition of the Futures Tour, which was previously its licensee, with immediate effect. Between the 2006 and 2010 seasons, Duramed, a pharmaceutical company, was the official sponsor of the tour.

From the 2012 season onwards, the American insurance company Symetra was chosen as the new official sponsor, and the circuit was consequently renamed the Symetra Tour.

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