CHASKA, Minn. – The nine-member PGA and LPGA Club Professional contingent in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is an experienced group heading into Thursday’s opening round at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
The five PGA of America Members are led by reigning Women’s PGA Stroke Play Champion Joanna Coe of Baltimore, Maryland; Dr. Alison Curdt of Reseda, California; Ashley Grier of Springfield, Pennsylvania; Brittany Kelly of Indianapolis, Indiana and Seul-Ki Park of Winchester, Massachusetts. Curdt is a dual PGA and LPGA member and vice president of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals division. She is competing in her sixth KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in the past eight years.
“It’s an honor each time to qualify,” said Curdt. “When I see the list of sites that the PGA and KPMG has selected for this Championship, I don’t want to be left out. It’s super important to play in this event. I look at it as a challenge. Each year the nerves get a little less.”
In her first six months in a leadership role with the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals Division, Curdt says she is hoping to encourage more women professionals to wear more than one golf association “badge.”
“My big vision is that most players will become dual members of the PGA and LPGA, and we will not have this conversation in a few years,” said Curdt.
Last month, Coe, a PGA Assistant Professional at Baltimore Country Club, tied for 51st in the PGA Professional Championship, while Grier, a PGA Assistant Professional at Overbrook Golf Club in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, finished T-71. It was the first time that two women completed 72 holes in the same national championship. They are each making a second straight appearance in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Moments after completing the PGA Professional Championship, Coe said that she felt “totally relaxed.”
“I am not nervous at all here as I would playing against the best women players in the world at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.”
Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon and a practice round, Grier said that she agrees with her friend from Baltimore.
“I am far more comfortable playing against other club pros, who are the best in the country, but they’re still not full-time tour players,” said Grier. “And, I think the yardage distances are a big help. Here, we are playing a course that is the longest that I will play this year.
“I would rather tee it up against the guys all day long than against the LPGA players.”
Grier also has a different barrier to overcome this week. She is recovering from an automobile accident on Feb. 2, suffering neck and back injuries. She said that she is “90% recovered,” yet is now suffering from tendinitis in her left arm. She has undergone months of physical therapy to help deal with a new curvature of her neck.
“I still feel like I have a way to go physically, but I feel it has helped me mentally,” said Grier. “A couple times, if get down about my golf game, I just look at the photos of my accident. I’m lucky to be even playing golf. When I was pouting about things in a round, my boss has sent me a photo of my totaled car. He reminded me how lucky I am.”
Grier recalled beginning 5-over-par after her first 12 holes at Belfair in the PGA Professional Championship. “I said to myself, ‘OK, you got hit by a truck, and you’re here. You can do it.’ I repeated it to myself and finished the round 3-under. It put things in a total new perspective.”
This KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is the major debut for two PGA Assistant Professionals – Brittany Kelly of Woodland Park Country Club of Carmel, Indiana; and Seul-Ki Park of Winchester (Mass.) Country Club.
Stephanie Connelly Eiswerth of Fleming Island, Florida, captured the 2018 LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals National Championship. She is making her first KPMG Women’s PGA Championship appearance and it comes after competing in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open.
Jimin Kang of Scottsdale, Arizona, recently earned her LPGA Teaching & Club Professional certification. She turned professional in 2002 and this week makes her 33rd major championship appearance. She had competed in four of the five women major championships.
The other LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals in the group are Nicole Jeray of Berwyn, Illinois, an LPGA Teaching Professional at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, Illinois; and Wendy Doolan of Lakeland, Florida. Doolan teaches at Grasslands Golf and Country Club and Sanlan Golf Course in Lakeland.
Jeray is competing in her 13th major championship, and Doolan in her fourth KPMG Women’s Championship in the past six years.