As the calendar page flips over to March, the birds begin their migration back north, a hint of green can be spotted in nature’s transition out of winter dormancy and the PKBGT celebrates the changing of the seasons with a brand new National Invitational. The Tour’s grandest event of the season, the PKBGT Invitational, is held annually in early November and is a Bell National exclusive event.
This year, the PKBGT rings in the onset of spring with its first-ever National Invitational event open to all divisions of play. Held at the home course of the LPGA Symetra Tour’s Women’s Health Classic which Kayla Smith (Burlington, NC 2019) earned the PKBGT’s exemption into last season, The Links at Stoney Point will play host to the 2019 Spring Invitational.
Each player in the field of 46 was required to have received an invitation in order to compete in the event. The field consists of players from the PKBGT’s three National divisions: Bell National will compete at 5,900 yards, Prep Preview will compete at 5,624 yards and Futures National will compete at 5,255 yards.
We take a closer look at the players traveling to Greenwood for the 2019 PKBGT Spring Invitational!
Leading the 26 player Bell National field into the event is Madeline Ananthasane (Auburn, GA 2020). If that name rings a bell, it’s no coincidence as Ananthatsane has camped out at the top of the leaderboard in recent PKBGT events. She is currently ranked 10th on the PKBGT Performance Index and has two Top Five finishes in as many events. Riding the momentum of a win at the 2019 RocketTour Players Championship, Ananthasane looks to retain the same position at the inaugural Spring Invitational.
Coming into Greenwood ranked 13th on the Performance Index, Catie Craig (Sautee Nacoochee, GA 2021) is no stranger to featured groups in the final round of play. Craig is the top-ranked player on the Bell National Order of Merit after two Top 10 finishes on the season. Her best performance came at the PKB Junior with a T6 finish.
Kara Carter (Kingsport, TN 2021) looks to get the ball rolling on her 2019 season. With a 10th place finish at the PKBGT Tournament of Champions in early January, Carter sits in 12th place on the Performance Index. She looks for a strong performance at the Spring Invitational to help boost her into the Top 10 of the Index.
Returning to action for the first time since the Tournament of Champions, Alexia Siehl (Fort Mill, SC 2022) hopes to get back to the top of the leaderboard in her home state at the Spring Invitational. Siehl has competed in four events in the 2019 campaign and had her best performance at the PKBGT Invitational where she finished T10.
Sara Im (Duluth, GA 2023) has been lurking in the shadows, just one step behind the leader in the past two PKBGT events. Ranked 17th on the Performance Index and second on the Bell National Order of Merit, Im finished in second place at the RocketTour Players Championship. The week prior, she finished T2 at the 2019 Orange Whip Classic. Look for Im atop the leaderboard yet again at The Links at Stoney Point where she hopes to get over the hump and earn her first victory of the 2019 campaign.
Entering the Spring Invitational as the top-ranked player on the Prep Preview Order of Merit, Grace Holcomb (Wilmington, NC 2021) hopes to fend off the competition in the field of 11 players at the 2019 PKBGT Spring Invitational. Holcomb leads the Order of Merit thanks to a victory at the Tournament of Champions and two Top 10 finishes to follow.
Having bounced back-and-forth between the Prep Preview and Bell National divisions, Autumn Carey (Manning, SC 2022) is primed for another run towards the trophy in Greenwood. Carey is ranked second on the Prep Preview Order of Merit and has five total Top 10 finishes on the season: three at the Prep Preview division and two in the Bell. With two T2 finishes including her most recent at the RocketTour Players Championship, Carey is hungry for her first win of the season.
With two Top 10 finishes in as many tries, Abby Franks (Roebuck, SC 2023) is back in action at The Links at Stoney Point. Franks is ranked third on the Prep Preview Order of Merit and finished third at the Orange Whip Classic in early February.
Madison Lynn Dixon (Inman, SC 2023) comes into the event ranked fourth on the Prep Preview Order of Merit. She has two of her own Top 10 finishes on the season including a T4 finish at the Tournament of Champions at Pinehurst No. 8 back in early January.
Sitting in fifth place on the Prep Preview Order of Merit, Macy Pate (Boone, NC 2024) feeds off of a second place finish at the Orange Whip Classic in Clemson. Pate held the lead entering the final round of that tournament and works to put herself in a solid position to hold the lead at the end of the weekend in Greenwood.
Braelyn Pippin (Waxhaw, NC 2020) tops the field of 9 Futures National players competing next weekend in South Carolina. Pippin has steadily improved over the course of the 2019 season and had her best finish to date at the RocketTour Players Championship where she took home runner-up honors. Pippin is ranked fourth on the Futures National Order of Merit.
Coming off of a T3 finish at the PKB Foundation Classic at Country Club of North Carolina, Madison Messimer (Myrtle Beach, SC 2025) travels to Greenwood with hopes of another finish toward the top of the leaderboard. She is ranked sixth on the Futures National Order of Merit.
Ranked eight on the Futures National Order of Merit, Ellen Yu (High Point, NC 2026) will try for her first win in a 36-hole tournament. Yu has two top finishes in the 2019 season including a ninth-place finish at the PKB Foundation Classic and a T8 finish at the PKB Junior.
Celebrating a new beginning, the 2019 PKBGT Spring Invitational embodies the opportunity of a first for everybody. Will Ananthasane take her first ever back-to-back PKBGT events? Will Im climb atop the leaderboard for the first time in 2019? Will several players reach the Top Five for the first time in their career? Stay glued to the leaderboard to find out where everyone stands at the inaugural Spring Invitational.
We wish all of our competitors the best of luck in Greenwood next weekend for what promises to be a highly competitive event!
About the PKBGT
Founded in 2007 by the Triad Youth Golf Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, as a local girls’ golf tour in the Triad region of North Carolina, the tour began as a simple concept: create more effective competitive playing opportunities for girls. By utilizing innovative yardage-based divisions instead of the traditional age-based format, the tour focused on developing tournament experience at the players’ pace. The 2019 season will feature over 90 tournaments in 9 states on the East Coast and with over 900 members, the PKBGT is the largest girl’s only tour in the country. Learn more about the PKBGT at http://www.pkbgt.org/.