WOMEN’S PROFESSIONAL GOLF HIGHLIGHTS MONTGOMERY COUNTY AS GOLF DESTINATION WITH 2ND ANNUAL VALLEY FORGE INVITATIONAL
Taiwan’s Min Lee Comes Through On First Hole Of Playoff at Raven’s Claw Golf Club
Submitted by Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board
POTTSTOWN, Pa. (June 3, 2019) – It took 55 holes, but Min Lee of Taiwan came through with a par on No. 18 in the first extra frame of a sudden-death playoff to win the second annual Valley Forge Invitational on Sunday, June 2 at Raven’s Claw Golf Club. The victory is Lee’s second on the Symetra Tour, as she captured the Garden City Charity Classic title back in 2014.
The Valley Forge Invitational, an LPGA Symetra Tour event, brought women’s professional golf back to Montgomery County after a successful inaugural year in 2018. Held at Raven’s Claw Golf Club in Pottstown, Pa., the Valley Forge Invitation was held May 28-June 2 at the challenging Ed Shearon-designed course earning one of 24 tournament locations on the 2019 Symetra Tour schedule. This year’s number of tournaments is the most in a season since 1988 with a record $4 million in purses, up 27% from 2018. Hundreds of golf fans lined up on the greens to watch women’s professional golf throughout tournament week.
“Every win means something and it feels like it has been awhile since last time I won in the United States,” said Lee, who fired a 5-under par 66 in the final round to conclude the tournament at 15-under overall. “After I finished, I got a lot of texts from my friends and family supporting me. Especially watching Facebook, people keep posting and cheering for me. It was amazing to have that.”
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) and Valley Forge Sports secured bringing the tournament to the county. Swedish player Louise Ridderstrom – who’s now on the LPGA – shot a course record to win the 2018 tournament, which was the first time the Symetra Tour played in the Philadelphia region.
“The VFTCB’s involvement and leadership efforts have helped to create a solid sponsorship foundation, as well as media presence, in all of the neighboring communities,” said Mike Nichols, Chief Business Officer for the LPGA Symetra Tour.
Lee’s performance came as an early birthday gift to herself. Even though Lee didn’t turn 24 on American soil until the Monday after the tournament, the clock struck midnight back in her hometown as she hit her second shot into the par-5 10th. The rest may have well been written in the stars.
“I had low expectations, came here wanting to have a good week and play good golf,” Lee said. “Luckily, I had a good start on Friday with a 7-under and that gave me a lot of confidence. This week has been great and tells me I am moving in the right direction, so I’m going to go with it.”
California native Esther Lee was the runner up and marked a career-best for the University of Colorado alumna in her second season on the Symetra Tour. Lee carded only two bogeys over three rounds and executed her gameplan as she hoped. Even with the strong play, all it took was finding the greenside bunker on the first playoff hole to erase what could have been following a 6-under par 65 for the final round.
“I had a really solid week, it’s a little hard to swallow playing so well today and then make the mistakes I didn’t make during the week on the playoff hole,” Lee said. “I pulled it and hooked it. They had been my misses all week and finally got to me a little bit. Overall, it was a good learning experience.”
Earlier during tournament week, entertainment was brought to golf fans and local businesses throughout the region. The Meet the Pro’s party was held at the Sunnybrook Ballroom in Pottstown and the Pro-Am followed the next day which allowed Montgomery County businesses to stand alongside the future LPGA Tour stars.
“Having an event of this caliber has a hugely positive economic impact on Montgomery County and the region,” said Mike Bowman, President and CEO of the VFTCB. “Besides highlighting women’s professional golf, the Tour spotlights Raven’s Claw, and the more than 50 other great public courses and private clubs that we have in Montco.”
The Symetra Tour attracts thousands of spectators and results in millions in positive economic impact. The top-10 players on the season-ending Race for the Card money list will be awarded LPGA membership for 2020.
Since it opened in 2005, Raven’s Claw Golf Club has been a consistent selection on the list of “Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Daily Fee” courses, as selected by Golfweek. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of the top 10 states by number of golfers, and the Philadelphia region is in the nation’s top five, according to the 2018 National Golf Foundation’s Golf Participation in the U.S. Study.
The major sponsors for the Valley Forge Invitational included the VFTCB and the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation (PAHWF). The beneficiary for the 2019 Valley Forge Invitational is Tri-County Community Network which brings together more than 90 agencies, businesses and individuals in the Pottstown community to problem solve community needs.
Through its Destination Montco Golf brand, the VFTCB works to promote the more than 50 golf courses throughout the county which is home to more than 300,000 yards of play. Also in May, the VFTCB debuts its Annual Montco Golf Guide to more than 10,000 golfers in a 150-mile radius.
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes Valley Forge and Montgomery County, PA as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500+ member hotels, restaurants, attractions, and services. The award-winning website links visitors, meeting planners, tour operators, and residents to a diverse portfolio of brands focused on reasons to visit the region.