The second annual Schooner Fall Classic is Saturday through Monday at Belmar Golf Club in Norman with 17 of the nation’s best women’s collegiate team, including five teams ranked in the top 20 by Golfweek magazine.
The event is hosted by the Toby Keith Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. All proceeds from the tournament will go directly to OK Kids Korral in Oklahoma City. The Korral is a 25,000 square foot facility that opened in November 2013, and is dedicated exclusively to serving the needs of pediatric cancer patients. This cost free home away from home facility has 16 guest suites, gourmet kitchen, playgrounds, and an indoor theatre.
Tricia Covel, wife of music star Toby Keith, serves as the catalyst and tournament host for the event. An avid golfer, Covel said the 90 golfers who will compete for the title will come away inspired after meeting several children who serve as tournament ambassadors that have been diagnosed with cancer.
"We are hosting a tournament with an intended purpose, and that is to encourage these future golf professionals and business leaders to consider how fortunate they are to be able to travel the world and play golf, while introducing them to children who are battling cancer and fighting to stay alive. There is more to life than just golf. "
The Schooner Fall Classic is the only collegiate golf event with a philanthropic component whereby the collegians direct their gift to a charitable organization of their choice. The winning team will receive a $3,000 contribution from the Toby Keith Foundation. All coaches and players prior to coming to Norman are asked to submit a charitable organization they would like to help anywhere in the world. At the conclusion of play, the winning team and their coach will each be given $500 of philanthropic seed money to be used to " pay it forward " to their designated non-profit, charity, church, local or worldwide organization.
Covel added "One of our goals is to encourage these ladies to be intentional in helping others who are less fortunate, and to set these future leaders on a lifetime path of charitable giving."
The event will kick off the season for 16th-ranked Oklahoma. The Sooners, led by sixth-year head coach and 2014 Big 12 Coach of the Year Veronique Drouin-Luttrell, are coming off a program-best fourth-place national finish last season, as well as a Big 12 Championship.
OU returns one starter from the 2013-14 squad in Big 12 Freshman of the Year Alexanda Kaui and will rely on sophomore Maggie Neece and three rookies to fill the spots left by last year’s dominating senior class.
“This fall is going to be a little different,” Drouin-Luttrell said. “We have a young team but a lot of talent. I honestly can’t wait to see how we play in tournaments. We’ve been working hard and scores are improving.”
Kaui was stellar as a freshman last year, earning honorable mention All-America acclaim, picking up two Big 12-Golfer-of-the-Month honors and posting numerous school records en route to a 16th-place individual finish at the NCAA Championships. Drouin-Luttrell says the exciting thing about Kaui is that, despite all of her accomplishments already, she has tremendous upside.
“Alexandra is a great role model for the whole team,” Drouin-Luttrell said. “We are playing in the same tournaments as we did last year, so she knows the courses and will be able to give advice on how to play each course. She’s a very good player and the sky is the limit for her. She has all the tools to be very successful.”
THE FIELD (GOLFWEEK COUNTDOWN RANKING IN PARENTHESES)
Mississippi State (14)
Texas A&M (19)
1. Alexandra Kaui, Sophomore: Finished 16th at last year’s NCAA Championships … 2013-14 Big 12 Freshman of the Year … 2013-14 honorable mention WGCA All-America selection … Boasted a 2013-14 team-best season stroke average (72.76; +1.71) and posted top-20 finishes in eight of 11 tournaments.
2. Hannah Wood, Freshman: Winner of the 2013 Kathy Whitworth Invitational … Named All-Colorado and all-conference all four years of high school … 2014 Colorado state-runner up … Ranked 20th overall in the Polo Junior Rankings (fourth in her class).
3. Ana Ruiz, Freshman: Member of the Mexican National Team … Won the AJGA’s Mexican Golf Federation Junior Open … Gold medalist at the Mexican Junior Olympics Games … Recorded 11 top-10 AJGA finishes … Ranked as the No. 1 Mexican junior national player in her age division in 2009-10.
4. Maggie Neece, Sophomore: Participated in three tournaments last season … Made collegiate debut at last year’s Schooner Fall Classic (played as an individual) … Tied for 36th place at the 2014 SunTrust Gator Invitational and shot a career-best 72 in the opening round.
5. Rylee Pedigo, Freshman: Qualified for 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur … 2012, 2013 and 2014 Kathy Whitworth Invitational invitee … Named to 10-member North Texas High School Golf Coaches Association Honor Team … Won 2014 Fort Worth Independent School District 5A individual and team championships.
Amanda Johnson, Sophomore: Tied for 31st place out of 96 competitors at the 2014 UCO Kickingbird Classic … Finished in third place out of 28 competitors at the OBU Spring Invitational … Member of three class 5A state champion teams in high school … Individual regional champion as a high school senior.
Haley Hill, Redshirt Freshman: Making her collegiate debut … Member of the 2013 class 5A state team in high school … Named to the 2013 Oklahoma All-State Team … Won the 2012 Divot Derby (junior golf tournament) in Florida … 2012 individual regional runner-up in high school.
The tournament is free and open to the public. Tee times begin at 8:30 am each day.
Live scoring will be provided by www.birdiefire.com
For more information on the event visit www.schoonerfallclassic.com or call The Toby Keith Foundation at 405-271-6552.