Florida’s Changkija Wins Playoff to Defend PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship
By Craig Dolch
Sandra Changkija of Kissimmee, Florida, parred the fifth playoff hole Tuesday to beat Ashley Grier and successfully defend her title in the PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club.
Changkija shot a 1-under 70 on the Ryder Course in difficult conditions to charge from six strokes back to finish at 7-over 221. Grier of Hagerstown, Maryland, birdied the 18th hole to force the playoff after winning by five shots last year.
The 32-year-old Changkija qualified for the LPGA Tour in 2012 and had four career top-10 finishes before becoming a PGA Professional two years ago. She had a prolific collegiate career, winning 16 tournaments at Nova Southeastern University in Davie and is the only four-time Division II Player of the Year (2008-’11).
Grier overcame four consecutive bogeys in the middle of her round with three birdies to share the lead. After a bogey at the 16th, she made the clutch birdie at No. 18 to force the playoff.
Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth of Fleming Island, Florida, started Tuesday’s final round with a three-shot lead, but an 8-over 79 dropped her into a third-place tie with Allie Knight (76-224) of Knoxville, Tennessee. Ashley Tait-Wengert (74-225) of Reisterstown, Maryland, was fifth.
With the top five finishers already exempt for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Jenny Suh Thompson of Jupiter finished sixth to earn a spot in the major championship June 23-26 at Congressional Country Club. Suh is the membership director at Dye Preserve in Jupiter and has a 3-month-old daughter, Oliver, with husband, Kurt.
“I actually thought the top eight finishers got in, so I was feeling very comfortable,” said Suh, referring to the system used last year because of COVID. “I’m very excited to be playing in the KPMG because it’s about a 25-minute drive from my home in Fairfax, Virginia.
“I don’t know how I’m going to find time to practice, but having a 3-month-old completely changes my perspective on golf. When I felt pressure, it was easy to shut it out. I know the most important thing is for me to be a good mom to Oliver.”
Lisa Grimes of Gold Canyon, Arizona, won the PGA Senior Women’s Stroke Play Championship after shooting 1-over 72. Grimes finished at 9-over 223, two shots ahead of Jean Bartholomew (71-225) of Palm Beach Gardens.
The PGA Winter Championships, run by the PGA of America, are Presented by GolfPass and On Location.