BRASELTON, Ga. – PGA Professionals Karen Paolozzi, Alison Curdt and Laurie Rinker didn't walk away with championship crystal Wednesday, but they each secured a major trip at the conclusion of the 27th LPGA Teaching & Club Professional National Championship.
Paolozzi, a PGA Assistant Professional at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, who closed with a 1-over-par 73 at Chateau Elan, was runner-up at even-par 216 in her first Championship appearance. Paolozzi rallied within a stroke of eventual four-time champion Jean Bartholomew of Garden City, New York, before her title bid was derailed.
Bartholomew also had a 73, for a 54-hole winning total of 2-under-par 214 and a first-place prize of $10,000. Paolozzi earned $7,500, and was joined by Curdt, an LPGA/PGA Professional from Woodland Hills, California, and PGA Professional Laurie Rinker of Stuart, Florida – who each shared third at 218.
They were among the top eight earning berths in the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, June 8-14, 2015, at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York.
"I wanted to win today, but I am excited to get a chance to play in a major championship with LPGA Tour Professionals," said Paolozzi, 32, a former All-American performer at Indiana University. "It's an opportunity that I would have never had and I count this as a great experience. I think it is a great event that we have combined because we are all here for one cause; to help grow the game of golf."
Paolozzi's title chances faded when she hit a poor tee shot on the par-4 13th hole and settled for a double bogey. She birdied the 16th to trim the deficit to two strokes of playing partner Bartholomew. Both players reached the par-5 18th in two shots, but they each three-putted for par.
Curdt, the PGA Director of Instruction at Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland, posted a 71, while Rinker, a teaching professional at Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach, Florida, had a 73; and shared third with Lisa Grimes of Alexandria, Minnesota, who fired a 69.
Rinker, 51, a member of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals, won the rain-shortened Legends Tour Championship last week in French Lick, Indiana. She had three days off before competing for the first time in the Championship at Chateau Elan.
"I didn't have the best stuff today, but I did finish 3-under on the back side, which was nice," said Rinker, who closed her 27-year LPGA Tour career at the 2009 LPGA Championship. Rinker's best major performance came in the 1987 LPGA Championship, when she tied for third.
"I got to play two days with Karen Paolozzi, and she's a fine player and hits the ball well. It will be nice to be joining her and to be making a trip again to an LPGA Championship. I am excited about what lies ahead. It's an awesome partnership between the PGA, LPGA and KPMG."
Rounding out Wednesday's top eight finishers were Elizabeth Caron of West Hartford, Connecticut; Amanda Moore of Southern Pines, North Carolina; and Charlotta Sorenstam of Davenport, Florida. PGA Professional Ashley Grier of Hagerstown, Maryland, struggled to a 78, and failed to advance through a three-way playoff with Caron and Sorenstam.