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Laura Gonzalez Escallon Wins the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship

(BATTLE CREEK, Mich.) July 24, 2016 - Laura Gonzalez Escallon (La Hulpe, Belgium), who played two of the most dominant rounds in Tour history, won the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship at Battfle Creek Country Club on Sunday as the tournament was shortened to 36-holes due to a severe storm in the area. Play began on time at 7:30 a.m., but was halted at 9:25 a.m. to evacuate the course. Rain and lightning continued through the early afternoon and play never resumed. 

Gonzalez Escallon lapped the field with rounds of 7-under, 65 on Friday and a new course record 8-under, 64 on Saturday to win her first Symetra Tour event at 15-under, 129. Her two-day total matches the Symetra Tour’s 36-hole scoring record.

“It feels awesome, but it hasn’t sunk in yet because I was just trying to focus on my round,” said Gonzalez Escallon, who was at her host families house off hole seven when she got the news. “When I got the email, I called my mom and told her the good news because she has been waiting and it is late at home in Belgium. I’m really happy about the win. 

Gonzalez Escallon, 25, earns the first-place check of $15,000 and one of two spots in The Evian.

Championship in September. Ally McDonald, who made a birdie on her final hole on Saturday, finishes in second place to earn the second spot in The Evian Championship. McDonald finished at 9-under, 135 with a 69 on day one and a 66 on day two. 

“It’s amazing to get to go to Evian, it will be my first ever LPGA event and it is a major,” said Gonzalez 

Escallon. “I also get to go home so that is a good thing. I was trying to find an excuse to go home and now I have one. I will go to Evian and then enjoy a week off at home and then fly back to finish the Symetra Tour season.”

Gonzalez Escallon, who rarely sees her coach back in Belgium, said he might be on the bag at The Evian Championship.

“He hasn’t seen me compete in at least three years so it will be great for him to be there,” said Gonzalez Escallon. “We’ve been working together for 12 years so I’m just excited that he gets to be part of it.”

Gonzalez Escallon moves from 38th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to 16th with $31,053 earned.

“My dream is to play on the LPGA so it would be great to get into the top 10 instead of going through Q-School which is a really tough week,” said Gonzalez Escallon. “If I can play good golf the rest of year, it would help going to the LPGA knowing I can play consistently.”

Gonzalez Escallon put together one of the most imressive two rounds in Tour history. She made 15 birdies against no bogeys and hit 32 of 36 greens in regulation and 25 of 28 fairways. Escallon also had the flatstick working attempting 27 putts on Friday and 26 on Saturday. 

The former Purdue All-American and 2011-12 Big Ten Player of the Year picks up her first career win in her 53rd start. Gonzalez Escallon now has 11 top 10 finishes in three seasons on Tour. She finished 23rd on the money list in 2014 and 35th in 2015. 

McDonald moves up to second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with her second place finish. She now has five top 10 finishes as a rookie and has earned $71,728 in 12 starts. 

The Symetra Tour heads to Kansas City, Missouri next week for the inaugural Kansas City Championship at Staley Farms Golf Club.  

Laura Gonzalez Escallon B-Roll of Trophy + Sound —> https://lpga.box.com/s/930pr7qf71ueynit4oqvrtxm1qzdsita

POTAWATOMI CUP POINTS: Laura Gonzalez Escallon moved to fourth on the new Potawatomi Cup standings with 500 points for the win. Jackie Stoelting remains in first place earning 50.50 points for the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship and now has 748.83 points through three events.

The final Potawatomi Cup event is the PHC Classic in Milwaukee. 

Potawatomi Cup Top 5

1. Jackie Stoelting - 758.83

2. Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong - 652.25

3. Ally McDonald - 651.00

4. Laura Gonzalez Escallon - 518.50

5. Peiyun Chien - 322.30

FireKeepers Casino Hotel, located just off Interstate 94 at Exit 104 in Battle Creek, MI, has been named Best Casino by audiences in Western Michigan and Northern Indiana, plus earned 9 first place awards in the Casino Player Magazine Best of Gaming 2015 Native Midwest category, including Best Overall Gaming Resort. FireKeepers was also selected one of the Best Casinos to Work For by Casino Player Magazine. Our signature restaurant, Nibi, is a multiple recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The property features 2,900 slot machines, 70 table games, a live poker room and bingo room. FireKeepers offers a AAA-rated Four Diamond resort-style hotel with 243 rooms, a functional multi-purpose event center, six distinctive dining destinations, and multiple lounges. FireKeepers is the title sponsor of the FireKeepers Casino 400, a Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, and host of the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship a Symetra Tour-Road to the LPGA golf event.