Annika will return to the LPGA for the first time since 2008 in this week’s Gainbridge LPGA at her home course, Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, in Orlando. Competing with her are 38 ANNIKA alumnae who have played in one or more ANNIKA Invitational or ANNIKA Intercollegiate event.
“I’m really excited for this unique opportunity – not only am I returning to LPGA competition at my home club, but I’ll be in a field with a number of young women I’ve gotten to know over the years through our ANNIKA Foundation events. Seeing them on the LPGA will really drive home the incredible work our Foundation team has accomplished in growing the game.”
The ANNIKA Foundation’s impact can’t be captured in statistics alone, but since its founding in 2007, it has devoted over $7 million on junior golf initiatives. In 2019, more than 600 girls and young women from 60-plus countries competed in its global circuit of seven tournaments held on five continents. Furthermore, some 60 ANNIKA alumnae have “graduated” to compete on the LPGA Tour, while 164 held Symetra Tour status in 2020. Among the ANNIKA alumnae competing at Lake Nona are five past ANNIKA champions which include Celine Boutier (2011 Diamond Resorts ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex), Angel Yin (2015 Diamond Resorts ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex), Patty Tavatanakit (2018 ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M), Linnea Strom (2012 ANNIKA Invitational Europe) and Maria Fassi (2017 & 2018 ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M).
In addition, three past ANNIKA Award presented by Stifel recipients are in the field. Bronte Law won in 2016 during her junior year at UCLA before turning professional in 2017. Former Blue Devil Leona Maguire became the first two-time winner of the award for best female collegiate golfer of the year in 2015 and 2017. Following in Maguire’s footsteps was Maria Fassi who claimed the ANNIKA Award back-to-back in 2018 and 2019.
Another ANNIKA standout who will be making her professional debut this week is former USC Trojan Gabriela Ruffels. Ruffels won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2019 and came back last year to defend, finishing runner-up. In 2020, she competed in three major championships with her best finish T13 at the U.S. Women’s Open. Most recently, the Australian competed in the Arnold Palmer Cup in December. We are excited to continue to follow Gabriela’s on-course success as she opens a new chapter in her career.
Other ANNIKA alumnae in the field are Alexa Pano (a), Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Yu Liu, Jessica Korda, Megan Khang, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Gaby Lopez, Kristen Gillman, Nicole Broch Larsen, Jaye Marie Green, Annie Park, Cheyenne Knight, Sarah Schmelzel, Austin Ernst, Maria Fernanda Torres, Jillian Hollis, Robyn Ree, Aditi Ashok, Lauren Stephenson, Tiffany Chan, Stephanie Meadow, Mariah Stackhouse, Muni He, Yealimi Noh, Lindsey Weaver, Emma Talley, Albane Valenzuela, Jennifer Chang and Haley Moore.
Here's to a great week with all of them!