PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida (February 4, 2016) – If Karen Paolozzi had enjoyed her three previous Women’s Stoke Play Championships, then it’s safe to say that her affinity for the Championships grew by leaps and bounds this week at PGA Golf Club.
Paolozzi, a PGA Assistant Professional at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, won the 2016 Women’s Stroke Play Championship on Thursday by a remarkable 14 shots over Lynn Valentine (218) of East Lyme, Connecticut. Marjorie Jones (222) of Orlando, Florida, and Jessica Carafiello (224) of Old Greenwich, Connecticut, finished third and fourth, respectively.
To describe Paolozzi’s win as “wire-to-wire” would be accurate, but it would not be doing it justice. Not only did Paolozzi improve her score each day of the 54-hole Championship (71-67-66, 204), she registered the low score in all three rounds.
The victory was Paolozzi’s second Women’s Stroke Play title; she also won here at PGA Golf Club in 2014. Her three-day total of 204 trumped her winning total (216) from two years ago by a dozen shots.
“I love starting my year off with this tournament and playing with these ladies,” said Paolozzi, who posted a bogey-free final round today on the wind-stricken Wanamaker Course. “It’s always my goal to win (the Women’s Stroke Play Championship) and when I do, I feel like it sets me up for a strong season. So, I’m now really excited for 2016.”
By winning two of the Championship’s last three titles, Paolozzi becomes the third player to win multiple Women’s Stroke Play Championships, joining C.J. Reeves (2005, ’09) and Carolyn Barnett-Howe (2006, ’08).
When not winning the Women’s Stroke Play Championship, Paolozzi has finished second. She recorded runner-up finishes here in both 2013 and ’15.
Armed with a six-shot advantage entering the final round, Paolozzi chose to keep grinding.
“Experience has taught me not to relax,” she said. “I like to keep my foot on the gas pedal. My goal today was to shoot under-par. I knew if I did that, I would be tough to catch.”
Paolozzi’s playing résumé continues to grow. She played in the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and has already qualified for the same LPGA major this June at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.
She will also tee it up with the men at the 49th PGA Professional Championship, June 26-29, 2016, at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York.
That exemption was earned last fall when Paolozzi became the first woman to win the Georgia PGA Professional Championship. Paolozzi and PGA of America Secretary Suzy Whaley are the only two females to win their respective PGA Section Championships. Whaley won the Connecticut PGA Professional Championship in 2002.
“This win gets me jump-started for the year to come,” Paolozzi said. “I won’t push my game much in February. But I will in March and April. In May, I don’t want to go so hard that I risk getting tired. Outside of some of our Georgia Section events, everything is now geared toward those two events in June.”
The PGA Winter Championships are presented by Premier Golf and Golf Advisor.