Nurse Sarah Hoffman returns to pro golf for Symetra Tour restart

Sarah Hoffman has traded her scrubs for clubs as the Symetra Tour restarts its season this week in her native Michigan. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and golf stopped, Hoffman returned to her career as a nurse at Michigan Medicine.

Now, the 30-year-old Grand Valley State grad is one of 144 players teeing it up this week at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek, Michigan.

“Sometimes it felt like higher praise than what I necessarily deserved,” said Hoffman of the attention she received for going back to work in the medical field, “but I felt like I was just doing what I could do.”

The Symetra Tour hosted one event in March before the season was shut down due to the spread of coronavirus. There are eight events remaining on the schedule. The top five money leaders at the end of the season, down from 10 due to COVID-19, will earn an LPGA card for 2021. This week’s 54-hole event has a purse of $175,000 and a winner’s check of $26,250.

There are 30 Symetra Tour rookies in the field including former Florida standout Sierra Brooks. Several LPGA players are gearing up for next week’s event in Toledo by playing in Michigan.

Former Michigan State player Sarah Burnham has won four times during the COVID-19 break, with her first coming in late March on the Cactus Tour in Arizona, where tour owner Mike Brown presented her with a roll of toilet tissue in addition to her trophy and check. Burnham won again on that tour in April and then picked up another title on the Eggland’s Best Tour in Florida with a career-low round of 63.

Burnham, 24, then matched that 63 at the Michigan PGA Women’s Open in early July, ultimately lapping the field by 10 shots.

“It was great to boost my confidence a little bit,” said Burnham, who is still looking for her first win on the Symetra and LPGA.

Other notables in the field include former Alabama player Janie Jackson, who won the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic by eight strokes in March. Alexa Pano, a 15-year-old amateur, played in last year’s Firekeepers event on a sponsor exemption and qualified for this week via a runner-up finish on the Women’s All Pro Tour.

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