PGA of America President Jim Richerson Looks to Lead U.S. Team to Victory at the Women’s PGA Cup
By Matt Adams
Jim Richerson during a Four Ball Match for the 28th PGA Cup at Fox Hills Golf Club on September 16, 2017 in Ottershaw, Surrey, England. (Traci Edwards/PGA of America)
This week, the top professional women’s players from across the globe will assemble at Twin Warriors Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, for the 2022 Women’s PGA Cup, a competition pitting six national teams against one another, with the winners earning the right to call themselves the best in the world.
At the helm as Captain of the U.S. Team is PGA of America President Jim Richerson, who is leading five American Professionals — Sherry Andonian, Jennifer Borocz, Joanna Coe, Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth and Ashley Grier — in their quest to retain the title the U.S. women captured at the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup in 2019.
For Richerson, whose two-year PGA Presidency ends next month, it will be an unforgettable week of golf and another cherished memory to add to the collection he amassed during his tenure.
“I’m unbelievably honored to be the Captain of these accomplished women who will represent the Association this week,” he says. “I think one of the reasons you serve in any type of capacity is to hopefully be able to represent PGA Members in a way that is positive and somehow makes them proud, so I really couldn’t think of a better way to end my Presidency.”
Richerson is optimistic about his group’s chances of repeating as champions, pointing to the leadership of Grier and Coe, who were members of the victorious 2019 U.S. Team. But he says all of his players are well prepared to deal with what will surely be a pressure cooker in the high desert once the first round begins.
“They’re all very experienced,” says Richerson. “All of them have competed at the highest levels, not only in their Sections, but at national PGA events, in professional tournaments, and at Major Championships. They know how to compete, they know how to prepare and they know how to come together as a team.”
It’s that team aspect that Richerson believes makes the Women’s PGA Cup so unique. In an individual sport like golf, camaraderie on the course in the heat of competition is rare. Even rarer is the opportunity to wear your country’s colors and represent an entire nation of golfers.
“Not only are you playing for yourself, you’re playing for your team, your country and, in this case, an entire Association of 28,000 men and women,” Richerson says. “Our team knows how special it is, and I know how special it is to be part of it.”
To be sure, the U.S. Team will have their work cut out for them. Team Canada gave them a run for their money in 2019, and Twin Warriors is what Richerson calls a “shot-maker’s course,” one that can be unforgiving, especially in the chilly, windy conditions that are expected this week.
“It’s going to test every part of the game, from tee shots to approach shots to short game,” cautions Richerson. “You really have to concentrate if the wind kicks up, because you’ll be dealing with holes in a lot of different directions. And then there’s the elevation: Twin Warriors, I believe, is at about 5,400 feet, and you’ve got to factor in shot distance [at that elevation], which is about eight or nine percent different. It’s not just about the physical part of the game, it’s about the mental part of the game, too.”
Be that as it may, the U.S. Women do possess some advantages. There’s Grier’s and Coe’s experience at the 2019 Women’s PGA Cup, and there’s the fact that Adonian played in the Senior PGA Professional Championship at Twin Warriors several weeks, giving her a sneak preview of the course under tournament conditions.
“We probably will have a bit more knowledge on the course than some of the other teams,” Richerson admits. “At the end of the day, though, all of these teams have some really accomplished players. They’ve all competed at a very high level, so I anticipate by the time we get to the opening round, they’re all going to be ready to go.”
Still, you can’t shake Richerson’s confidence in his squad, and you’ll never dash the hope he holds of ending his PGA Presidency on the highest of notes by hoisting that silver cup in the air with the U.S. women this week.