When Kayla Smith walked down the 18th fairway of the PKBGT Women’s Health Classic Junior Qualifier, she thought she had to make birdie to secure her spot in this week’s Symetra Tour Self Regional HealthCare Women’s Golf Classic, but her par on the par 5- 18th was good enough. This week, she will walk down the same fairway alongside the rising stars of the LPGA Tour.
For the second year in a row, the Junior Challenge featured a series of junior girls golf tournaments, culminating in a final qualifier, March 24-25, 2018 at the Links at Stoney Point in Greenwood, S.C. The 2018 event featured six pre-qualification tournaments, with events in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. These events have brought together the top 30 junior girls golfers ages 11-18 on the East Coast.
Smith fought through tough, windy, March weather to win by 1 shot over 2017 Champion Lauren Freyvogel (Gibsonia, PA 2019). The field featured the top players from the east coast, including Duke commit Megan Furtney (South Elgin, IL) and 2016 PKBGT Bell Order of Merit Champion Emily Hawkins, who is headed to Campbell University this fall.
Smith, a native of Burlington, NC, is not the only PKBGT Champion in the field. She is joined by 2 Time PKBGT Champion Lori Beth Adams, also hailing from Burlington, NC, and PKBGT Alumnus and Symetra Tour Event Champion Laura Wearn of Charlotte NC. Smith joined Adams for a practice round this past Monday, representing the PKBGT’s past and present.
Smith tees off at 7:52 AM EST tomorrow, Thursday May 10th and 12:42 on Friday. Adams and Wearn are paired together for the first two days, playing at 1:37 PM tomorrow and 8:36AM Friday.
“We look forward to having Kayla represent the PKB Girls’ Golf Tour this week and watching her play alongside the future stars of the LPGA Tour,” said Tour Director Mike Parker. “We are thankful for the opportunity that the Symetra Tour and Stoney Point have provided for a PKBGT member to fulfill a dream of playing in a professional event.”
Previously called the LPGA Futures Tour, the Symetra Tour is the official developmental golf tour of the LPGA Tour. Known as “the Road to the LPGA,” the Symetra Tour has graduated a total of 127 women to the LPGA since 1999. As the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour, the Symetra Tour has graduated a total of 137 women to the LPGA since 1999.
PKBGT was founded out of a local LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program in Greensboro, North Carolina. LPGA-USGA Girls Golf is the principle initiative of the LPGA Foundation, the non-profit arm of the LPGA.
In 2017, the Women’s Health Classic Junior Challenge represented the first east coast opportunity for a junior player to earn access to an LPGA professional event. For this year’s challenge, over 280 players registered to compete in the Junior Challenge from 13 different states from Florida to Ohio and 2 countries.