The Peggy Kirk Bell Girls’ Golf Tour re-TRACED our steps, hauling the caravan back down 421 to Sanford, North Carolina for the weekend. Following a thrilling tiebreaker playoff at Monday afternoon’s 2019 CGA/PKBGT Vicki DiSantis Qualifier, the National Series returned to Carolina Trace Country Club for a two-day showdown with the picturesque Lake Course! Further south, the Central Florida Regional Series returned to the course in Largo at The Bayou Club! Anchor down as we take a look at the past two days on tour in The PKBGT Weekend Review!
2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic at Carolina Trace Country Club
The hands of the clock at Carolina Trace Country Club that loomed tall – entrenched at the center of a stone-paved walkway leading toward the practice putting green – read 2:30 p.m. Beyond a thin layer of towering pines, the final three competitors at the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic tapped in their putts on the 18th green encompassed by the vast body of Lake Trace.
As the trio shuffled along the cart path toward the scoring area, the likelihood that their back nine scores would determine a champion in the Futures National division resembled the volume of Lake Trace in its entirety. One hour prior, the top five in the Bell National field were presented their respective hardware and the lone victor gifted her illustrious PKB glass-bowl trophy.
Once seated at the scoring table, under the shade of the outdoor patio adjacent to the clubhouse, scorecards were checked and tallied – all but closing the tab in a captivating week of golf on the Lake Course.
A much-anticipated sequel to the qualifier which sent a handful of PKB members to the CGA’s Vicki DiSantis Girls Championship in May, the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic ushered the field of 48 players on a weekend expedition through the luxurious landscape of Carolina Trace.
For the many who returned to the course after Monday’s qualifier, a layout fresh in their memory bank furnished a slight advantage over those who had yet to experience the drastic drop-offs along the rolling hills of elevated par-three tee shots overlooking greens hugged by an assortment of penalty areas.
Or the notable par-five 14th hole fenced on the left side by the open mouth of Lake Trace, waiting to devour any ball soaring slightly off course. Or the symmetrical setting of the 18th hole, water-lining the right-hand boundary.
Despite the challenges, the girls enjoyed a weekend in paradise on a course quite easy on the eyes.
As those final three scores were verified on the computer, the apparent end to a week in Sanford received an unthinkable extension. The second tiebreaker playoff of the week to determine the Futures National champion. A true nail-biting finish to a heart-pounding weekend of exciting golf at the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic!
Spair no expense for the Bell National championship
Morgan Ketchum (Winston-Salem, NC 2022) thoroughly enjoys competing on the Lake Course at Carolina Trace, there is no doubt about it. After winning the qualifier earlier in the week, Ketchum jumped out to a fast start in the weekend slate in Sanford.
Strolling onward as if she owned the club, Ketchum finished the first round of competition atop the leaderboard. With one round left to play, only one roadblock separated Ketchum from the Lake Course sweep: Deborah Spair (Raleigh, NC 2020).
In third place after Saturday’s opening round, Spair sat three-strokes off Ketchum in third place. Fully aware of her situation, Spair laid it all on the line and pieced together a memorable final-round performance on Sunday.
Paired with Ketchum and Caroline Crumrine (Wilmington, NC 2020) in the final group to take the course in the Bell National division, Spair set the tone early with a birdie on the first hole. After making the turn, she took matters into her own hands once again with a birdie on the par-four 11th hole.
Spair combatted a string of bogeys on her back nine, in addition to Crumrine and a surging Paris Fieldings (Suffolk, VA 2023) who made the turn at one-under-par on the round, with back-to-back pars to close out her tournament and take home the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic championship in the 21-player Bell National field. She finished the weekend with a two-day total score of 77, 76 = 153 (+9).
Crumrine and Fieldings finished in second and third place respectively, while Ketchum took fourth place and Taylor Miano (Dobbs Ferry, NY 2020) rounded out the top five in the Bell National division.
Yu better believe it in the Futures National division
McKenzie Daffin (Fayetteville, NC 2021) shot the low score of both fields combined in Saturday’s first round, holding her spot atop the Futures National leaderboard with a 73 (+1). Daffin was part of the final group to close out the tournament’s 36 holes of regulation golf, but it was Ellen Yu (High Point, NC 2026) and Anna Howerton (Kernersville, NC 2023) who made the stroll back to the first tee – followed by a train of spectator carts eager to watch a head-to-head duel for the championship trophy.
Locked in a dead heat at 156 (+12), Yu and Howerton would play the first hole as many times as it would take to crown a champion. As if this were another hole of recreational golf with no prize at stake, both girls piped their drives down the fairway. Yu hugged the left edge of “the short stuff” while Howerton carried the right-side bunker with slightly more distance than her opponent.
Some would argue that “close only counts in horseshoes”. Ellen Yu might add approach shots to that list, as she landed her second shot within two yards of the pin atop a ridge on the first green. Howerton responded by joining Yu, hitting the green in regulation, though on the front edge – staring down a birdie putt of greater length than her counterpart.
Howerton’s birdie attempt stopped short of the cup by a mere foot and she tapped in for par. With a small crowd – fellow competitors, parents, PKB staff and rules officials – gathered just off the green to witness the moment of truth, Yu lined up the six-foot putt that stood between her and a second win in the 2019 PKBGT season.
Yu’s mother battled nerves of her own, fighting the urge to look away and let the soundscape to ensue provide the final result. Her daughter, with nerves constructed from stainless steel, let her putt loose, kissing the back edge of the cup before dropping in for birdie – and the 2019 PKBGT Carolina’s Classic championship!
Howerton finished the tournament runner-up with Daffin in third place, Kinsley Smith (Raleigh, NC 2024) in fourth place and Grace Ridenour (Cary, NC 2025) closing out the leaderboard in fifth place.
Craving additional coverage from the weekend in Sanford? Read the full event recap HERE!
PKBGT Central Florida Series at The Bayou Club
While the National Series frantically searched for a post-round dinner spot in Sanford on Saturday, 12 of the PKBGT’s brightest talent from the sunshine state concluded their afternoon in Largo, FL. Closing out the month of April for the Central Florida Regional Series, the Bayou Club presented a thorough test to those competing in the Prep, Futures and Discovery divisions.
Tiffany Colin (Wesley Chapel, FL 2023) took home champions honors in the Prep division. A normal participant in the Futures division, the event in Largo was Colin’s first tournament -and victory- at the Prep level!
In the Futures division, Abigail Fernandez (Windermere, FL 2023) brought home her third win of the 2019 season. Fernandez, known by some as “Flipper”, flipped on the switch on the fifth hole where she had her best performance of the day with a birdie!
Traveling south for the PKBGT’s hub in North Carolina, Leah Edwards (Greensboro, NC 2025) earned her first win of the season in the Discovery division. Edwards finished the afternoon with a final score of 38 (+2) and made an impressive three birdies in her nine holes of competition!
Yearning for more details from the day in Largo? Read the full event recap HERE!
Bell National Order of Merit
A majority of the top 100 in the Bell National Order of Merit rankings remained intact following the weekend at Carolina Trace Country Club. Morgan Ketchum (Winston-Salem, NC 2022) hopped one spot into No. 16 on the rankings. Moving into the top 25, Macie Burcham (Greensboro, NC 2021) improved six spots and is now No. 23.
Other Notable Movement in the Bell National OOM Rankings:
40. Jessica Rathbone (Montpelier, VA 2020); moved up 10 spots
46. Lauren Martin (Mooresville, NC 2020); moved up 12 spots
70. Caroline Crumrine (Wilmington, NC 2020); moved up 25 spots
74. Macy Pate (Boone, NC 2024); moved up 24 spots
T96. Deborah Spair (Raleigh, NC 2020); moved up 50 spots
Futures National Order of Merit
The top two dynamic duo of Sophie Lauture (Raleigh, NC 2024) and Grace Ridenour (Cary, NC 2025) remained in first and second place on the Futures National Order of Merit rankings, respectively. Ellen Yu (High Point, NC 2026) took advantage and moved into third place, up three spots from last week, in winning the tournament.
Other Notable Movement in the Bell National OOM Rankings:
6. Emerson Dever (Durham, NC 2025); moved up 3 spots
10. Madison Messimer (Myrtle Beach, SC 2025); moved up 3 spots
12. McKenzie Daffin (Fayetteville, NC 2021); moved up 12 spots
17. Heather Appelson (Wake Forest, NC 2023); moved up 15 spots
19. Kitson O’Neal (Pinehurst, NC 2023); moved up 2 spots
20. Justine Pennycooke (Cary, NC 2023); moved up 10 spots
Around the Tour
The Week Ahead
Those who earned exemptions this past season will head to Williamsburg, VA to compete in the LPGA Tour Pure Silk Girls Junior Championship at Kingsmill Resort! Registration for this event closes TONIGHT at 12 a.m.
Meanwhile, the Central Florida Series plays for the second weekend in a row, competing at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando on Saturday! Registration for this event closes TONIGHT at 12 a.m.
Upcoming Registration Deadlines
A handful of the PKBGT’s present and past took the course on Monday at Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro, NC for the CGA’s U.S. Women’s Open Qualifying. The 36-hole event comprised of two rounds, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, would present the top two finishers with an exemption into the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open Championship at the Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, SC!
VIEW THE RESULTS FOR THE QUALIFYING HERE!
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/.