Four Winds Invitational gets under way Thursday

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

SOUTH BEND — With the start of the 2023 Four Winds Invitational just two days away, Epson Tour players are beginning to flock to the South Bend Country Club to get in some practice, as well as to participate in the Pro-Am event which was held Tuesday.

The Four Winds Invitational is the 15th stop on the Epson Tour this season. The field will consist of 144 golfers who are looking for a share of the $200,000 purse.

The 54-hole tournament will begin Thursday morning with the field being trimmed for the low 60 players, plus ties, after 36 holes. This is the 12th annual Four Winds Invitational, which is sponsored by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the Four Winds Casinos.

Yan Liu won last year’s tournament as she shot 7-under par. Liu is now on the LPGA Tour and is not competing on the Epson Tour.

Former champion Kim Kaufman (2020) is in the field and will tee off at 12:41 p.m. Thursday.

So is Potawatomi Cup leader Siyun Liu, who will tee off on No. 10 at 8:36 a.m. Liu has 500 points to lead Auston Kim, who has 472.50 points. Kim tees off at 8:25 a.m. on No. 1.

The Potawatomi Cup is a point-based ranking sponsored by Native American tribes in the Potawatomi Nation that awards bonus money following the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship, the Island Resort Championship and the Four Winds Invitational.

Liu has been able to keep her lead despite not competing in the Island Resort Championship.

“I’m happy to be in the position I’m in right now, and hopefully, I can keep it up with some solid play,” Liu said. “Also, I just want to say thank you to the Potawatomi Tribe, and I appreciate them for their continued support in women’s golf.”

A player to keep an eye on this week is Tsai Ching Tseng, who won the Island Resort Championship, but was ineligible to collect points as she was not a member of the Epson Tour at the time. She is not a member and can collect points at the Four Winds Invitational.

Following the 2022 LPGA and LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament Stage I, Tseng missed out by nine strokes when things wrapped up.

She was then placed in Category N after missing the cut at Stage I. She decided not to declare herself a member of the Epson Tour. Her first start came at the Firekeepers after receiving an exemption. She also received an exemption for the Island Resort Championship, which she won.

“My win at Island Resort made me feel really good about my game,” she said. “The LPGA Tour has always been my goal. I still have a lot to do to get there, but I am close to my goal, and there are still a lot of tournaments left.”

After looking at preparing for the Stage I this August, Tseng has had a change of plans.

“I feel a release not having to go back to Stage I,” she said. “I felt a lot of pressure during Stage I last year, but now I am a lot more relaxed. My goal now is the top 10. My game feels better since my missed cut, so I am ready to go for the next few tournaments.”

Tseng will tee off at 8:25 a.m. on No. 10.

Another player to watch is Gabriela Ruffels, of Melbourne, Australia, who is currently the Epson Tour money leader as she sits atop the Race for the Card. She has played in 11 of the 14 events coming into South Bend and has earned $126,283.