Category - Amateur Programs
Women’s Division Champions Crowned at 2023 PGA National Club Championship
A two-time champion. A hard-fought battle. A wire-to-wire winner. The women’s divisions of the 2023 PGA National Club Championship were compelling from start to finish.
Held in Scottsdale, Arizona, across Troon North Golf Club’s Monument and Pinnacle courses and Westin Kierland’s Ironwood/Acacia course, the 54-hole championship featured three Women’s Divisions: Open (any age), Senior (50+ years old) and Legend (60+ years old).
Ali Mulhall (pictured above) from Black Desert Resort in Ivins, Utah, recorded a final round 2-under 70 to become the first two-time Women’s Open Division Champion after previously winning in 2021. Kim Keyer-Scott (Shadow Wood Country Club, Bonita Springs, Fla.) carded a 1-under 71 on Thursday to capture the Women’s Senior Division. Toni Notaro (Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, N.C.) posted a final round 5-over 76 to take the Women’s Legend Division after leading wire-to-wire.
Mulhall, who won the Open Division at the 2021 PGA National Club Championship, carded rounds of 72-69-70 to finish at 4-under 211 and clinch a three-shot victory over Natalie Yen (Arrowhead Golf Club, Molalla, Ore.) at 1-under 214. Kim Santiago from Sahalee Country Club (Sammamish, Wash.), the host of the 2024 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, finished in third at 11-over 226.
“It's a spectacular tournament,” said Mulhall. “I was lucky enough to practice at Black Desert in Utah and really take my game to the next level and be ready for this tournament today. And just to be able to say I'm a two time champion is just great.”
After a strong win at the 2021 PGA National Club Championship at PGA West, Mulhall returned to defend her Women’s Open Division title this past February at the 2022 championship. During that championship earlier this year, her grandfather passed away, and while she battled in his honor, Mulhall came up just short as the runner-up, which she used to help motivate her this week.
“After that, I decided I'm going to be the best inside 100 yards,” she said. “I went to work and was able to just get it better and be able to get up and down more.”
After play was suspended for darkness on Wednesday, Mulhall and Yen began the day with pars on 18 to enter the final round tied for the lead. After a shotgun start across all divisions, the two women battled for the championship with Mulhall coming out on top after recording the Open Division’s lone score under-par in the final round.
“Natalie was pushing hard the whole way through,” she said. “So, I just kept trying to make putts, stay steady and not give anything away down the stretch.”
The PGA National Club Championship is a family affair for the Mulhalls. Ali’s sister, Molli, also competed this week and finished T-15. Their father, Christopher Mulhall, has been a PGA Member since 2008 and currently serves as the Head Professional at Round Valley Golf Course in Utah.
“My little sister Molli is just a spectacular player,” said Ali. “Just to be able to practice with her, we really pushed each other to be able to hit the best shots we could. And then obviously having my dad out there being a PGA Member, he knows a lot about the game and was able to give me very useful advice that I used all three days.”
“Getting all these good players coming to one spot and competing for a national title is awesome, and it's a great program that the PGA has put together,” said Christopher Mulhall. “I was very impressed with the tournament at PGA West when Ali won in 2021. And we just decided that we’d mark it on our calendar every year.”
Keyer-Scott captured a hard-fought Women’s Senior Division title with a score of 9-over 224, just one stroke ahead of Kim Shek (Sahalee Country Club, Sammamish, Wash.) in second place and two ahead of Susan West (NorthRiver Yacht Club, Tuscaloosa, Ala.) in third.
“This means a lot actually,” said Keyer-Scott. “I know that I'm competing against women who are all their own club champions, and the fact that I came back and shot a really good round today, that was pretty exciting for me.”
Keyer-Scott vaulted up the leaderboard Thursday after entering the final round trailing by seven shots in a tie for sixth. Her final round of 1-under 71, the lowest individual round of the Women’s Senior Division, was highlighted by birdies on the par-5 456-yard 3rd and the par-3 144-yard 13th.
“I told my husband before I left, I said my goal is top five so I can get invited back next year,” Keyer-Scott said. “I just went out and was really calm today. I just made a lot of pars. I only made two birdies and I bogeyed my last hole. I made a few clutch putts. One of them was a longer par-4 and I hit a good chip but left myself 12 feet. When I ran that par, I went, ‘OK, let’s go. I got this.’”
Keyer-Scott was proud to represent Shadow Wood Country Club at the Championship, and she expects to hear a lot of great things from her fellow members in the morning.
“It means a lot because I've been there almost 20 years and I've been the club champion 18 or 19 of those 20 years,” she said. “A friend of mine told me about this last year and she's like, you gotta play it, it's fun, you gotta play it.”
Notaro went wire-to-wire in the Women’s Legend Division, posting a final score of 4-over 219 to cruise to an eight-stroke victory. Patty Moore, who is also from Pinehurst Resort and won the 2020 Women’s Senior Championship, finished in second place at 12-over 227 followed by Kristin Fenwick (Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort, Palm Springs, Calif.) in third at 13-over 228.
“With a field like this, with a lot of really established players, it just feels great,” said Notaro. “To go wire-to-wire, that's just beyond my comprehension because I know how hard that is. And these are really good golfers out here. They're all champions.”
Notaro posted opening rounds of 72 and 71 to give herself a seven-stroke lead heading into Thursday’s final round. She credits her cousin and best friend Jill Harman, who came out from Pinehurst to be her caddie, for being a calming influence for her.
“Today, it was just all about making pars; I wasn't trying to be aggressive,” she said. “[First Round] on Monument, I made four birdies which really helped. And yesterday at Kierland, I had two. The driver was really working and put me in the middle of the fairway most of the time. And the putter cured any ills that I had.”
Notaro has played in all four PGA National Club Championships, dating back to the inaugural edition held at her home club, the legendary Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. Just as important as the championship title, Notaro credits the PGA National Club Championship with building great camaraderie among the players.
“Pinehurst has such a history and to be able to represent them and bring home a championship to a place that is all about championships is really special,” said Notaro. “The first [National Club Championship] was in Pinehurst where I met Shelley Marshall, who I was paired with for four rounds and I'm actually staying with her out here. She's become such a great friend. Everyone here is a good player, but they're even better people.”
Patricia Benz from TPC Prestancia in Sarasota, Florida, registered a hole-in-one on Westin Kierland Ironwood/Acacia’s 139-yard par-3 5th hole during the opening round of the Senior Women’s Division on Tuesday.
The PGA National Club Championship features amateur club champions from across the country who were invited by their facility’s PGA of America Professional to compete in the event. All champions receive a lifetime exemption into the PGA National Club Championship, and the top five finishers in each division will be invited to compete in next year’s championship.
The men’s divisions will compete Sunday-Tuesday on the same three courses.