HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida — The Epson Tour returns for the fourth consecutive year as the Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship is this Friday-Sunday, May 26-28th at the El Campeón Championship Course about a 35-minute drive northwest of Orlando.
While admission is free, the resort is asking patrons to bring a non-perishable food item for Lake County Cares and the food pantry for those in need.
A field of 144 players will compete in a 54-hole, stroke-play format for $200,000 and a winner’s share of $30,000. A cut will be made to the low 60 and ties after 36 holes.
All six of the winners this season on the Epson Tour are currently among those entered to play at Mission Inn. Agathe Laisne, Miranda Wang, Gigi Stoll, Savannah Vilaubi, and Jenny Coleman plan to tee it up on the El Campeón championship course in pursuit of their second win. Gabriela Ruffels is also in the field, looking to take home her third win of the season.
“The track at Mission Inn Resort and Club has proven to test our players and get them ready for the next level on the LPGA Tour,” said the Epson Tour’s Chief Business and Operations Officer, Jody Brothers. “Each year, low scores are posted, and we’re thrilled to continue testing our athletes on the El Campéon course in 2023.”
Surrounded by an abundance of natural Florida beauty, the El Campeón 18-hole championship course was designed by Chicago-based course architect, George O’Neil and built in 1917 – with further enhancements in 1926 by Charles E. Clarke of Troon, Scotland. El Campeón is one of the South’s oldest golf courses and blends unusual Central Florida elevation changes of more than 85 feet with features of traditional golf design, including spectacular rolling fairways and undulating greens.
The three of the past champions have spent time on the LPGA Tour, playing amongst the best in the world. 2022 champion, Gina Kim, graduated from the Epson Tour at the end of last season, earning full membership on the LPGA Tour in 2023. Kim says the victory here bolstered her confidence to continue playing her best golf on both tours.
“[The win] was a bit unexpected, but it was the turning point of my career,” said 2022 champion, Gina Kim. “That gave me a chance to play in two majors – the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and The Amundi Evian Championship – so I just want to give a huge shoutout [to the Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship] for making this girl’s dreams come true. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for them; they really made a change in my career.”
Epson Tour standouts Kim Kaufman, Gabby Lemieux and Lindsey McCurdy are also slated to tee it up in Howey-in-the-Hills this year. McCurdy was the recipient of the 2022 Heather Wilbur Award, an end-of-season recognition voted on by peers honoring the player that best exemplifies dedication, courage, perseverance, and love of the game.
Other notable players include Cydney Clanton and Silvia Cavalleri. Clanton was a 2012 Epson Tour graduate who has won once on the LPGA Tour. She’s made over $1.5M in career earnings. Cavalleri has made over $1.3M in career earnings on the LPGA Tour, and like Clanton, also recorded one victory and nine top-10 finishes.