It’s a busy weekend of action in the world of golf. Peggy Kirk Bell’s – the PKBGT’s tour matriarch – home course at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club plays host to the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open. The PGA Tour heads to the Bethpage Black Course for the first PGA Championship since moving to the month of May, the second of four major championships.
Current PKBGT member, Amanda Sambach (Davidson, NC 2021), competed alongside Symetra Tour professionals in the 2019 Symetra Classic at River Run Country Club in Davidson, NC. On top of all the action within the professional ranks, the PKBGT North Carolina Regional Series takes to Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro, NC for the 2019 NC Series Gate City Classic.
The block of historic tournaments sets the stage for next weekend’s 54-hole PKBGT Championship event. Country Club of Salisbury will be the center of the junior girls’ golf universe, hosting the 2019 PKBGT Open Championships.
Families of 87 participants will spend Memorial Day weekend at the home course of Catawba University Women’s Golf in Salisbury, North Carolina. One of the prestigious Championship events on the PKBGT circuit, the Open Championship annually gathers the tour’s top talent for a three-day competition.
Guaranteed two complete rounds of golf, each player looks to set the pace early in order to survive for Day Three. Following the second round of play, the field will be cut to the low 50% for Monday’s final round. With 18 holes of golf to fend off the remainder of the field, each division will crown a champion at the conclusion of the Memorial Day round.
Players will compete in one of two divisions: Bell National at 6,009 yards and Futures National at 5,305 yards. With a stacked field in both divisions, let’s take a look at the players to watch in next weekend’s 2019 PKBGT Open Championship!
Returning to the junior girls’ golf circuit following a taste of the professional life competing in the Symetra Classic, Amanda Sambach (Davidson, NC 2021) looks to continue playing at an exceptional level in Salisbury. Sambach sits in second place entering the second round of the Symetra Tour’s event in her hometown. She is currently ranked first on the PKBGT Performance Index and coming off one of the best performances of her PKBGT career – an 11-under-par win at the 2019 PKBGT Masters – Sambach is poised for another Top Finish at the 2019 PKBGT Open Championships.
Rallying with a final-round 69 (-3) to provide the closest resemblance of a challenge at the Masters for Sambach, Kendall Turner (Chesapeake, VA 2019) returns to the PKBGT circuit. Turner is currently ranked fifth on the Performance Index and has four Top Ten finishes to her 2019 season. She brought home her first win on the tour at the 2019 PKBGT Cape Fear Classic presented by Evolve Golf. Turner promises to challenge Sambach once more in next weekend’s championship event.
Currently ranked sixth on the Performance Index, Danielle Suh (Herndon, VA 2020) makes a push for her first Top Finish in an official PKBGT event this season. Suh’s T4 finish at the LPGA PureSilk Championship Junior Invitational was the best of her 2019 season. Settled in 18th place on the Bell National Order of Merit rankings, a strong performance at the Country Club of Salisbury would bolster her position with a surge toward the Top Ten.
Sitting inside the Top Ten, ranked ninth on the Performance Index, Maria Atwood (Holly Springs, NC 2022) hopes to break into the Top Five on Memorial Day weekend. Atwood’s second-place finish at the PKB Junior in December remains her top performance of the current season. She rallied to a T9 finish at the 2019 PKBGT Tar Heel Classic and will reach within to channel that level of success in Salisbury.
Rounding out the players to watch in the 54-player Bell National field is Paris Fieldings (Suffolk, VA 2023). Fieldings travels south from Virginia to compete in the championship event in North Carolina in the midst of a successful season on the tour. Fieldings is currently ranked 12th on the Performance Index and third place in the Order of Merit rankings.
Headlining the 33 player Futures National field, Sophie Lauture (Raleigh, NC 2024) returns to action following a weekend off. Lauture is currently ranked No. 1 on the Futures National Order of Merit rankings. She has nine Top Ten finishes to her 2019 season including two wins: the first coming at the 2019 PKBGT RocketTour Players Championship followed by the 2019 PKBGT Masters!
Right on Lauture’s tail, Grace Ridenour (Cary, NC 2025) sits just behind in second place on the Order of Merit rankings. Ridenour has seven Top Ten finishes to her season and also carries two victories in the 2019 campaign. She opened her season with a win at the PKBGT Palmetto Dunes Resort Classic and followed that with a first-place finish at the 2019 PKBGT Palmetto Classic.
Joining Lauture and Ridenour on the two-time victor list, Ellen Yu (High Point, NC 2026) enters Memorial Day weekend ranked third on the Order of Merit rankings. Yu has six Top Ten finishes on the season and sports two champion trophies. She brought home her first win at the 2019 PKBGT Spring Invitational and earned a second in a tiebreaker playoff victory at the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic.
Kinsley Smith (Raleigh, NC 2024) joins the party of top-ranked players on the Order of Merit, where she is currently ranked No. 4. Smith holds five Top Ten finishes on the season. Her top two performances came in a fourth-place finish at the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic and a second-place finish at the 2019 Palmetto Classic. She looks to add to her slew of Top Finishes at Country Club of Salisbury.
Closing the players to watch at the 2019 PKBGT Open Championships is Josephine Nguyen (Springfield, VA 2024). Nguyen is currently ranked seventh on the Order of Merit rankings and has generated buzz in the last few months on the tour. She has three Top Ten Finishes on the season including one win and a thrilling runner-up finish. Falling just short in a tiebreaker playoff, she finished T2 at the 2019 PKBGT Tar Heel Classic. Several weeks later, Nguyen climbed atop the mountain and brought home the first-place trophy at the 2019 PKBGT Mid-Atlantic Girls’ Championship!
We would like to wish all of our competitors the best of luck in next weekend’s championship event at the Country Club of Salisbury! Three days of competition between the tour’s top talent promises to be an epic showdown with high-level junior girls’ golf on display in Salisbury for the 2019 PKBGT Open Championships! If you can’t make it out to witness the action in person, be sure to follow live scoring throughout the weekend!
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/.