The Peggy Kirk Bell Girls’ Golf Tour’s National Series occupied the airwaves for much of early 2019. A heavy slate of events across the east coast provided girls an opportunity to compete on a schedule of first-rate courses around the country.
Top-tier Division 1 facilities and former homes to LPGA major championship hosted the all-girls’ fields, frequently welcomed by bone-chilling temperatures and erratic bouts of pestering precipitation. Layers were shed with each passing tournament, to the point where players and parents can almost feel safe departing home without stuffing a hefty hoodie into the suitcase.
With the tour’s transitions past the awkward early-spring inconsistencies – surging toward summer heat – comes the onset of PKBGT regional events!
Further south, in the Sunshine State, the Central Florida Regional Series surpassed the halfway point with three events remaining on the schedule. The Southeast Series kicked off their season at the University of Georgia last month and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Series gathers for the first event of 2019 this weekend at Augustine Golf Club.
New to the PKBGT in 2019, the Delaware Valley Regional Series and the Kentucky Regional Series each take the course at their inaugural event within the next month-and-a-half. The Delaware Valley Series, presented by Women’s Golfers Give Back, will play at Linfield National Golf Club on May 18. The Kentucky Series, presented by Kentucky PGA Jr. Tour, commences on June 9 at World of Golf’s Executive Course.
Last but certainly not least, with one event in the books, the North Carolina Regional Series returns home to Greensboro for the 2019 PKBGT Gate City Classic. The first of three two-day events on the NC Regional Series, next weekend’s event is the first taste of multi-day competition for members who have gained valuable experience in the early stages of their tournament golf career through the series’ one-day events.
The field of 80 at Forest Oaks Country Club will compete in one of the North Carolina Series’ three divisions: Prep division at 5,727 yards, Futures division at 4,980 and Discovery division at 1,815 yards. Players in the Prep and Futures divisions will complete 18 holes of play each day while those in the Discovery division will complete 9 holes each day.
Let’s dive in for a closer look at the players to watch in the 2019 PKBGT Gate City Classic!
Headlining the 34 player field in the Prep Division, Macie Burcham (Greensboro, NC 2021) doesn’t need to travel far this weekend. Burcham, playing in her hometown, heads to Forest Oaks as the top-ranked player in the field on the PKBGT Performance Index. Sitting inside the Top 100, ranked No. 59, Burcham has several Top 10 finishes in the Bell Division on the National Series this season. Her top finish came when she T5 at the 2019 PKB Foundation Classic in January.
Making her first appearance on the tour in 2019, Alyssa Cox (Mount Airy, NC 2019) looks to return to 2018 form. Cox finished in the Top 5 on three separate occasions last season, including a fourth-place finish in the Gate City Classic. She is currently ranked inside the Top 100 (No. 65) on the Performance Index.
Off to a strong start on the North Carolina Regional Series, Halynn Lee (Cary, NC 2021) hopes to climb the North Carolina Prep Order of Merit rankings where she is currently ranked T3. Lee finished T3 at the North Carolina Series season-opening tournament at Longleaf Golf and Family Club. She recently finished in third place at the 2019 CGA/PKBGT Vicki DiSantis Qualifier at Carolina Trace Country Club, earning an exemption into the CGA’s prestigious girls’ championship event.
Morgan Ketchum (Winston-Salem, NC 2022) enters her first regional competition of the 2019 season after a week of extreme success at Carolina Trace Country Club. Ketchum opened by winning a tiebreaker playoff in the 2019 CGA/PKBGT Vicki DiSantis Qualifier at Carolina Trace Country Club! She followed her win with another Top Five finish, coming in fourth place at the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic on the same course! In doing so, Ketchum moved up on the Performance Index – now ranked No. 79.
Closing out the players to watch in the Prep division, Trinity Muthomi (Kernersville, NC 2022) sits in second place on the North Carolina Prep Order of Merit after a second-place finish at Longleaf Golf and Family Club. Muthomi challenged Ketchum in the tiebreaker playoff at Carolina Trace, falling short in a runner-up effort.
At the top of the players to watch in the Futures division field of 32, Ellen Yu (High Point, NC 2026) returns to the regional level for the first time this season. Yu is amidst a successful first year on the national circuit, ranked third on the Futures National Order of Merit. Yu earned wins at the 2019 PKBGT Spring Invitational and the 2019 PKBGT Carolinas Classic, adding to her six total Top 10 finishes.
Kinsley Smith (Raleigh, NC 2024) joins Yu as another player in the field at Forest Oaks with success on the national stage. Smith sits just one position behind Yu on the Order of Merit in fourth place. She has five Top 10 performances this season including a second place finish at the 2019 PKBGT Palmetto Classic. In the first North Carolina Regional event at Longleaf Golf and Family Club, Smith finished T7.
Alongside Yu and Smith, Bethany Welch (Matthews, NC 2023) has compiled an impressive body of work on the national series. Welch, currently ranked in the Top 20 on the Order of Merit, has four Top 10 finishes in the 2019 campaign. Her best performance came in a third-place finish at the 2019 PKBGT Orange Whip Classic.
Leading the charge in the 15 player field in the Discovery division is Ashnoor Kaur (Roanoke, VA 2027). Kaur was a force on the course in 2018, winning the North Carolina Series at Maple Chase and the two-day North Carolina Series Finale at Colonial Country Club. The Roanoke native picked up right where she left off in 2019, winning the series’ first event at Longleaf Golf and Family Club.
Gracie Song (Waxhaw, NC 2026) challenged Kaur’s dominance on the regional level last season, earning three wins between the North Carolina and Southeast Regional Series. Song began her 2019 regional season with a win at the Central Florida Series Kickoff at Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista). Her first North Carolina Series event of the season resulted in a T3 finish at Longleaf.
Rounding out the players to watch at the 2019 PKBGT Gate City Classic, Jenna Kim (Raleigh, NC 2027) competes in her first event of the season. Kim’s 2018 season ended with a win at the North Carolina Regional Series at Pinehurst No. 1 in Pinehurst, NC. She added a T2 finish at the NC Series event at Longleaf last year.
We would like to wish all of our competitors the best of luck at Forest Oaks Country Club in the 2019 PKBGT Gate City Classic! Awards will be handed out to the Top Four finishers in each division following Sunday’s final round. To stay up to date on the weekend of regional madness in Greensboro, be sure to follow the live scoring leaderboard!
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/.