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EISWERTH WINS PLAYOFF IN PINEHURST DEBUT
University of North Florida women’s golf assistant coach Stephanie Eiswerth (Fleming Island, Fla.) felt confident teeing it up at Pinehurst No. 8 this week, despite it being her first time competing at the LPGA T&CP National Championship.
With temperatures hitting the 90s at Pinehurst on Wednesday, 54-holes wasn’t quite enough for the final grouping of Eiswerth, two-time LPGA winner Jimin Kang (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Assistant Golf Professional at Winchester Country Club Seul-Ki Park (Winchester, Mass.).
A trio of pars on the first extra hole (18) took the playoff to the par-5 17th where Eiswerth stuck her third shot inside three-feet to finish out with a birdie and take the win in her debut.
“That was very exciting, but very stressful,” Eiswerth said. “I kept leaving putts short, the first time on 18 I blew the putt like 20 feet by and I made that one. Then again, on 18 the second time I left it short and so that was stressful. It was so much fun though. We all played really well, it was a battle the entire round. I’m obviously happy to go out on top in my first try.”
Eiswerth, maiden name Connelly, competed on the Symetra Tour collecting four top-10 finishes before she turned her attention to teaching where she now coaches for UNF and is a Class A LPGA teaching professional. Her one LPGA start came at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, and she said is looking forward to a second try at the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
“It’s always a dream when you start playing as a little girl to have that major moment. That major feeling. To be able to have that opportunity, I’m very excited. It’s going to be a very good test, it’s going to be tough I’m going to have to put a lot of work into it to get ready. I want to perform when I get there.”
TICKETS PUNCHED TO HAZELTINE
The top-eight finishers in the Championship division all earned spots in the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota: Eiswerth, Kang, Park, Alison Curdt (Reseda, Calif.), Ashley Grier (Springfield, Penn.), Wendy Doolan (Lakeland, Fla.), Nicole Jeray (Berwyn, Ill.) and Joanna Coe (Baltimore, Md.).
Curdt, a PGA Master Professional in Instruction and LPGA Class A Member, is excited to be making her third straight trip to the major championship, “It feels great,” she said. “I definitely wanted to go play that golf course, because it’s a notable one. I always want to try to make it back to KPMG each year. This is one of the toughest fields, the competition gets better and better each year, the golf courses are getting harder. It’s very challenging each year, so I’m really proud to persevere today.”
Curdt, Grier, Doolan and Coe all made appearances at the major championship in July at Kemper Lakes based on their finishes at last year’s National Championship.
CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION RESULTS
*won with birdie on second playoff hole
LOCAL HIRST GOES BACK-TO-BACK IN CHALLENGE DIVISION
Defending champion Charlaine Hirst (Pinehurst, N.C.) struggled on the front nine on Wednesday, but three birdies on the back nine were enough to blow away the Challenge division field with a final round 77. Hirst locked in back-to-back division wins beating out Joellyn Crooks (+22) (Fuquay Varina, N.C.) by 11 strokes.
“I’m very excited,” Hirst said. “My front nine was crazy, I was like a different person I didn’t swing well this morning at all. Then, I finally found my footing again on the back nine. So, it was very exciting to have hung in there on the front nine and come back and play well.”
Hirst is a Teaching Professional at the nearby Country Club of Whispering Pines and had her family and friends with her all week cheering her on to victory.
“It’s very special. We had a good time out there. I played well for three days, and I’m proud of myself for hanging in there. And to get the win at home is fantastic.”
CHALLENGE DIVISION RESULTS
MOXNESS MASTERS NO. 8 AND WINS SENIOR DIVISION
It’s been six years since Barbara Moxness (Edina, Minn.) won the Senior division at the 2012 LPGA T&CP National Championship, but in her first time playing Pinehurst No. 8 she was firing on all cylinders. Moxness, who played on the LPGA Tour between 1978 and 1986, had just one bogey on the card in her final round 69 to finish with the lowest 54-hole total across all three divisions a 4-under par 212.
“I hit it close today, so I could make some putts,” Moxness said. “You have to on these greens. If you get long putts you feel fortunate to two-putt, because the greens are just so difficult. It feels great to win. I won it in 2012, but it feels better this time I actually played very well and I’m happy with that.”
Moxness, an LPGA T&CP Life member and founder/owner of the Moxie Golf Academy, topped 2017 Senior division champion Cathy Johnston-Forbes (Kitty Hawk, N.C.) by 11 strokes. Both ladies will be teeing it up at the 2018 and 2019 Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort, and Moxness is looking forward to her trip to French Lick, Indiana, “It’s a really good event,” she said. “A good golf course and a great competition. It’s going to be wonderful.”
The top five finishers in the Senior division qualify for the 2019 Senior LPGA Championship at the French Lick Resort as well as any competitors over the age of 45 who finish in the top 10 in the Championship division.
SENIOR DIVISION RESULTS
Stephanie Eiswerth, on her win:
“It’s exciting to be out here, I don’t play much anymore now that I’m coaching. So, it’s fun to be back in to competition with the excitement and stress of it. It’s cool, I appreciate being able to be out here. And it was nice to have my husband [Adam] on the bag keeping me calm.”
Eiswerth, on being a mentor to her UNF players:
“I hope to be a good example and play well. I’m kind of feisty, so it makes me take a step back and remember to take it one shot at a time, which is what I tell them all the time. I hope that they’re proud of me, and that I did a good job for them and represented UNF well.”
Charlaine Hirst, on her celebration plans:
“The family will probably go and have a bite to eat out to celebrate, I’m not cooking tonight.”