16 golfers in Arizona’s Epson Tour field will play LPGA’s Drive On
MESA, Arizona – It’s been a busy two weeks in Arizona for the LPGA and its development tour.
The Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic of the Epson Tour, which runs through Sunday, is being held for the third time at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa.
Next week, the LPGA returns to Grand Canyon State for the first time since 2019, when the Bank of Hope Founders Cup was hosted in Phoenix. Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club is hosting the LPGA Drive On Championship March 23-26. The club also hosted the LPGA for Safeway International from 2004 to 2008.
It’s a pretty great situation for aspiring golfers to take advantage of back-to-back play opportunities.
Despite a checkered week at Carlisle, LPGA member Bailey Tardy is trying to make the most of back-to-back weeks at courses just 21 miles apart. She said her 79 in the first round on Thursday was partly due to essential gear she forgot to pack.
“I didn’t have golf shoes the first day, so I think that was my problem,” she said before showing off her new shoes. “Fifty dollars. PGA Superstore. Not the same, but I like them better.”
Tardy followed her 79 with a 64 to make the cut on Friday.
Like Tardy, Canadian Maude-Aimee LeBlanc will make her first LPGA launch of 2023 at Drive On. And like Tardy, LeBlanc lives in the east, so the Epson event is a great opportunity to prepare.
“We haven’t played in Arizona in a while and I train in Florida so it’s very different, the grass, the air. The ball goes a lot further here,” she said, noting that she’ll also be breaking in a new Caddy this week in Mesa.
There were 16 players also participating in the Epson event in the upcoming LPGA field, with Tardy advancing to the weekend in the 13. Two of the upstarts – Grace Kim and Celine Borge – are LPGA members who were alumni of the 2022 Epson Tour. Two others – Jaravee Boonchant and Karen Chung – are doubles members who finished between 21st and 45th in last year’s Q-Series.
The other nine golfers who made the cut at Longbow are LPGA members: Lauren Stephenson, Lauren Coughlin, Pernilla Lindberg, Grace Kim, Amanda Doherty, Caroline Inglis, Valery Plata, Samantha Wagner, and Tardy and Leblanc.
The Epson Tour’s new chief business and operations officer, Jody Brothers, is focused on the first of the two events in Arizona, but knows that having the LPGA here next week will help many players with preparation and logistics.
“They’re pros at travel, but whenever you can settle in and get comfortable, whether it’s time zone adjustment or green speeds or grass types, I think that serves them really, really well,” he said.
Tardy missed her LPGA card for the 2021 season by just $343. Now that she has status, she no longer takes anything for granted.
“It’s just as hard to stay with the LPGA as it is to get your card.”
She also learned that a 79 on the first round doesn’t have to ruin your week.
“Honestly, after the first round and then [bouncing back in] The second round is to never give up on yourself,” she said. “Just don’t listen to the bad things and focus on what you did and rely on it to prepare you for the next day.”