On Saturday, April 20, the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls’ Golf Tour plays the CGA/PKBGT Vicki DiSantis Qualifiers, presented by the Carolina’s Golf Association at two courses: Siler City Country Club in Siler City, NC and Green Valley Country Club in Greenville, SC.
For 13 years running, the Vicki DiSantis Girls’ Championship has served as one of the most prestigious girls’ championships in the Carolinas.
Honoring a devoted supporter
The event is named after long-time Carolinas junior girls’ golf supporter Vicki DiSantis. DiSantis is currently a CGA Executive Committee member and USGA Girls’ Junior Committee member, and has served as president of the North Carolina Women’s Golf Association and Junior Girls’ Director of the (now-dissolved) Carolinas Women’s Golf Association in the past. In addition to her roles at the CGA and USGA, she frequently serves as a Rules Official at PKBGT events in the Carolinas.
A history of PKBGT alumni topping the leaderboard
The event draws a field comprised of the top-ranked girls’ golf talent in North Carolina and South Carolina annually. Past champions of the Vicki DiSantis Girls’ Championship include PKBGT alumni such as current LPGA/Symetra Tour professional Katherine Perry (Class of 2010), with fellow professional Allison Emrey (Class of 2011) finishing runner-up the same year.
Current Division 1 standouts Gina Kim (Class of 2018), Gracyn Burgess (Class of 2018), Anna Redding (Class of 2015), and Jennifer Chang (Class of 2018) have all either won the event or finished in second place. Current PKBGT member and future Wake Forest Demon Deacon Rachel Kuehn (Class of 2019) finished in second place in 2017 before taking the top spot in last year’s competition.
Additional opportunities to qualify for the event
In 2018, the CGA introduced two regional qualifying events in partnership with the PKBGT, providing additional opportunities to qualify for the championship. In the partnership’s second season, the CGA-PKBGT Vicki DiSantis Qualifiers will be hosted by Siler City Country Club in Siler City, NC, and Green Valley Country Club in Grenville, SC on Saturday, April 20, 2019.
100 junior girls’ golfers from around the Carolinas will compete between the two qualifiers. Only players residing in North Carolina and South Carolina could register for the qualifiers, though membership to the PKBGT was not required to do so. With a pool of talented junior girls’ golfers vying for a spot in the prestigious championship, we take a closer look at the players to watch this weekend!
Vicki DiSantis Qualifier at Siler City Country Club (Siler City, NC)
Entering the qualifier fresh off representing the PKBGT at the 2019 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals in Augusta, Sydney Yermish (Pinehurst, NC 2023) and Ellen Yu (High Point, NC 2026) look to construct those three facets of the game into a complete round of golf in Siler City on Saturday. Both girls finished the National Finals in the top five of their respective age brackets, fourth place for Yu in the 10 to 11-year-old division and fifth place for Yermish in the 12 to 13-year-old division.
Yermish has one win on the PKBGT this season, an exhilarating tiebreaker playoff victory at the 2019 PKBGT Tar Heel Classic in Chapel Hill, NC. She has climbed into the Top 50 of the PKBGT Performance Index. Meanwhile, Yu is building an impressive resume in her first season on the PKBGT Futures National series. She earned three Top Ten finishes before claiming her very first win on the National Series at the 2019 PKBGT Spring Invitational at The Links at Stoney Point.
A champion amongst the field, Sophie Lauture (Raleigh, NC 2024) has frequented the top of the leaderboard, earning Top Ten finishes in each of her eight events on the tour this season. Currently leading the 2019 Futures National Order of Merit race, Lauture has two wins to her name this season: The 2019 PKBGT RocketTour Players Championship and, most recently, the 2019 PKBGT Masters presented by Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts.
Mary Sears Brown (Wake Forest, NC 2021) enters the qualifier with two Top Ten finishes in three events on the tour this season. Her top finish came at the 2019 PKBGT Tar Heel Classic in Chapel Hill, where she fell just short of the win in a thrilling tiebreaker playoff. She closes out the players to watch in the field of 61 at Siler City Country Club!
Vicki DiSantis Qualifier at Green Valley Country Club (Greenville, SC)
After winning the inaugural PKBGT Junior Collegiate Showcase, Ashley Looper (Marietta, GA 2021) hits the course in hopes of earning her spot in the 2019 Vicki DiSantis Girls’ Championship. Capping off a solid round while competing at the same course setup that the top Division 1 Girls’ Golf programs played at the day prior, Looper looks to carry that momentum into Greenville this weekend.
Finishing in third place on the Prep Preview Order of Merit this season, Autumn Carey (Manning, SC 2022) heads to Green Valley Country Club equipped with more than a handful of top finishes on the tour this season, six Top Ten finishes to be exact. Carey is no stranger to success at a qualifying event, earning a spot in the PKBGT Invitational this past November with a fifth-place finish at the Last Chance Invitational Qualifier.
Entering the qualifier inside the PKBGT Performance Index Top 50, Cindy Song (Charlotte, NC 2023) plays her second event of the year in Greenville, SC. Her lone appearance on the tour this season was a T20 finish in the Palmetto Classic at Furman University Golf Club.
Closing out the players to watch in the field of 39 at Green Valley Country Club, Abby Franks (Roebuck, SC 2023) hopes to earn a spot in the championship event with another top finish. Ending the 2019 Prep Preview Order of Merit season in fourth place, Franks has four Top Five finishes in five PKBGT events.
What’s at stake
Players competing in this weekend’s qualifying events are vying for a spot in the 14th playing of the CGA Vicki DiSantis Girls’ Championship! The event will be held at Pine Island Country Club in Charlotte, NC on May 11-12, 2019. The top 15 finishers and ties at the Siler City CC event and the top 10 finishers and ties at the Green Valley CC event will punch their tickets to the championship 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 player’s 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/.