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Rookie sensation Madelene Sagstrom heads women’s pro golf tournament at Raintree

Practice day at Symetra Classic

Golfers returned to Raintree Country Club in Charlotte on Thursday to prepare for the Symetra Classic. The tournament begins Friday. Among the golfers competing are top-ranked and leading money winner Madelene Sagstrom, Charlotte natives Allison E
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Golfers returned to Raintree Country Club in Charlotte on Thursday to prepare for the Symetra Classic. The tournament begins Friday. Among the golfers competing are top-ranked and leading money winner Madelene Sagstrom, Charlotte natives Allison E

The Symetra Classic makes its annual stop at Raintree Country Country Club this week. Part of the LPGA’s developmental Symetra Tour, the tournament showcases some of pro golf’s top young women’s players.

Rookie Madelene Sagstrom is already making her mark, with two victories in the tour’s first five tournaments. She is one victory away from automatic promotion to the LPGA Tour as a three-time winner.

Sagstrom, 23, won last week’s tournament in Greenwood, S.C., by six strokes and has won $93,714 this season. Only two other players in Symetra Tour history have won more than $90,000 in a season.

Sagstrom will also have a certain comfort level this week. She is staying at the home of Charlotte resident Robert Karlsson, a PGA Tour player from Sweden who is Sagstrom’s mentor.

“He teaches me everything he can,” said Sagstrom, who will tee off Friday at 8:36 a.m. from the 10th tee. “We’ve become really close friends because he has tried to help me become a better person and a better golfer.”

Five to watch

Madelene Sagstrom: Expect a strong start from Sagstrom: She is 16 under in first rounds this season.

Augusta James: N.C. State alum and 2015 Symetra Classic runner-up (she lost in a playoff) is eighth on this season’s money list and finished 11th at Greenwood last week.

Ally McDonald: Another rookie, McDonald was tied for third at Greenwood and has been a top-25 finisher in all five tournaments. She might have given Sagstrom more of a challenge last week, but she had nine three-putts.

Sara-Maude Juneau: Raintree member (she has the club’s logo on her golf bag) has one top-10 finish this season, but missed the cut at Greenwood.

Madison Moosa: A junior at Grace Academy, Moosa is one of Charlotte’s top-ranked high school players and is in the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption. She is the country’s 31st-ranked high school junior.

Worth mentioning

▪  Other local players include Laura Wearn, a former Charlotte Country Day star who played in the 2014 Symestra Classic on a sponsor’s exemption. She’s made the past two cuts, finishing tied for 25th at Greenwood. Also, Allison Emrey: Ardrey Kell High grad is a full-time pro who finished tied for 23rd at Sara Bay (Fla.).

▪  Madison Pressel, sister of LPGA star Morgan Pressel, is in the Symetra field, as is Nelly Korda, sister of the LPGA’s Jessica Korda.

▪  Candy Hannemann, a former Duke player, is in contention to represent Brazil in this summer’s Olympics. Other Symetra Tour players in the running to make their teams include Paz Echeverria (Chile), Liv Cheng (New Zealand) and Stephanie Meadow (Ireland).

By the numbers

14: Players in the field who played college in North Carolina: Candy Hannemann, Jennie Lee (Duke); Lauren Doughtie, Augusta James, Brittany Marchand (N.C. State); Ashley Tait (UNC Wilmington); Jean Chua, Marissa Dodd, Allison Emrey, Natalie Sheary (Wake Forest); Kelly Whaley, Allie White, Katherine Perry, Catherine O’Donnell (North Carolina).

$22,500: First-place prize money.

70.353: Sagstrom’s scoring average, which leads the Symetra Tour.

The course

Raintree Country Club is playing host for the fourth year. The course will play at 6,650 yards this weekend. Par will be 72.

Last year

Rookie Haruka Morita-Wanyaolu sank a 6-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Canada’s Augusta James to become the eighth winner in eight tour events in 2015.

Weather forecast

Friday: Partly cloudy, high of 84, 20 percent chance of rain.

Saturday: Sunny, high of 83, no chance of rain.

Sunday: Sunny, high of 74, no chance of rain.

They said it

“I couldn’t have imagined any of this. I’ve been working hard to get myself to think that I’m good enough to play and be able to put scores down. What has really been working is to find a game plan and just stick to it. – Sagstrom.

“It is such a well-run event. Having the opportunity to play in Charlotte, which has such great golf courses, is part of the reason I chose to play college golf at Wake Forest.” – Former Deacons golfer Natalie Sheary.

“It’s always fun to play at ‘home.’ ” – Juneau, a Canadian who is a member of Raintree Country Club.

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