For the eight PGA/LPGA Club Professionals in the field for the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the journey to Aronimink Golf Club and the opportunity to measure their individual games against the world’s best players was the real reward.
Jennifer Borocz, PGA; Ellen Ceresko, LPGA; Joanna Coe, PGA; Dr. Alison Curdt, PGA/LPGA; Stephanie Connelly Eiswerth, LPG; Jordan Lintz, LPGA; Samantha Morrell, LPGA; and Seul-Ki Park Hawley, PGA each missed the cut. And while that is not welcome news for the eight who qualified last August via the 2019 LPGA Professionals National Championship, it did not spoil their experience or tarnish their lofty status as Club Professionals to play in an LPGA Major Championship.
Eiswerth of Fleming Island, Florida, finished as the Low Club Professional at Aronimink, but her two-day total of 149 was three shots shy of enabling her to play through the weekend. She was encouraged by her play, yet felt she had more to give.
“I have so much experience really playing tournament golf that I really have to trust that I’ve been here and believe in myself a little bit more,‘’ reflected Eiswerth, who is the two-time defending LPGA Professionals National Champion.
Sometimes ‘being there,’ in the arena, is special enough.
“It is really nice to even just be here … That’s what I say. Just to be nominated (is) great,” said Morrell (159), who settled in on Friday and posted a second-round 77 that was a five-shot improvement on her opening-round score.
For others, the journey, or even the story behind it, is greater than the destination.
“I had an eight-year hiatus from golf, just due to a back injury and family life,” said Borocz (161), who works for the North Florida PGA Section and is the former head women’s golf coach at Jacksonville University. “(Last year) was my first year back playing, so what an incredible thing to be able to do on my first try to make this championship. Just an incredible experience, and it’s really surreal.”
How does a PGA or LPGA Club Professional measure themselves when the 36-hole leaderboard at Aronimink yields 13 players, including five Major Champions, within three shots of the leader, Sei-Young Kim? The LPGA’s depth of talent is equal parts obvious and overflowing.
“The LPGA is an excellent product,” said Coe (159), the 2019 Women’s PGA Professional of the Year and Assistant Director of Instruction at Baltimore Country Club. “I always tell people, they just need to put eyeballs on it and realize how good they are. Everyone is focusing on Bryson hitting it 370, but these girls weigh 115 pounds and are hitting it 270. I mean, yards per pound, LPGA wins. It’s absolutely incredible what they can do."
When playing alongside the world’s best, perhaps an appropriate perspective is the greatest gift of all? Along with an understanding that the balance of playing golf at the highest level and teaching the game can be elusive.
“Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit to the number of hours I spend teaching my students but also grinding on my game, working on my game,” said Hawley (160) of Winchester, Massachusetts, who was playing in her third straight KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “You’ve only got 12 hours a day, and I know that every one of (the eight PGA/LPGA Club Professionals) that were here have spent our time diligently, productively to be where we are and to have this opportunity.”
For Curdt (151), the Vice President of the LPGA Professional Division, the comfort came from the company of her fellow Club Professionals and PGA Cup teammates.
“For me personally, what’s most special is to have a couple of teammates from the PGA Women’s Cup here. … It’s (also) great to be able to network and meet some of the Club Professionals … and make new friends. But over the past two days I think that I’m pretty pleased with my showing for being a Club Professional here. I still had a great week, loved the golf course, and really enjoyed my time.”