Tremors rumbled from the game room at Pine Needles and out to the practice facilities where girls filed in, preparing for the final round of the 2019 PKBGT National season. A lingering aftershock of the madness which ensued mere hours earlier at the PKBGT Ping Pong Extravaganza.
Members packed around the Pine Needles ping pong table for a bracket-style competition on Saturday night. Serving as a brief reprieve from golf, the girls enjoyed an evening to hang out off the course, indulge in a spread of sweets – cake and cupcakes, and battle it out in a different setting for the top prize: an ever-so coveted Starbucks gift card.
The friendly off-course festivities came to an end and concentration returned to the course dark and early Sunday morning. Yes, many players hit the range prior to sunrise and once the light began to shine, it was hidden behind a layer of gray clouds lining the sky.
While it wasn’t picturesque for the first several tee times, players, parents and staff alike enjoyed a cover from the blistering sunshine that would emerge mid-morning and remain for the duration of the final round. A slight breeze may have even rustled a few needles of Pines lining the fairway at the home course of our tour matriarch, Mrs. Peggy Kirk Bell.
The whirlwind of a season wound down to one final round for the field of 72 who traveled to Southern Pines for the weekend. As far west as St. Louis and north as Connecticut, competitors flocked to Pine Needles for the grand finale. And they were not disappointed.
At one point in Saturday’s first round of play, eight players sat in the red with scores under-par. In total, six players departed the course on Saturday afternoon under-par and ready to lock in on Sunday.
Along with the last major championship of the season, a spot on the historic PKBGT Order of Merit champion’s trophy was at stake. Friends and family were fortunate enough to be able to follow along with the tournament live online with Junior Golf Live in the house, covering the final round.
One by one, the groups approached the bunker-bordered 18th green. As they marched through the scoring tent, the intensity multiplied and eyes remained locked on the leaderboard. Every competitor left it all out on the course and gave their best effort over the duration of the weekend. At the end of the day, two players stood alone atop the leaderboard as champion of the 2019 PKBGT Tour Championship and Order of Merit!
Swooping in with a late push, Amanda Sambach (Davidson, NC 2021) surged to her second win of the season after posting a two-under-par weekend total of 72, 70 = 142 (-2). Sambach posted four birdies in her final round, saving her best for last with a two-under-par 34 on the back nine.
Along with her Tour Championship trophy, Sambach claims the Bell National Order of Merit championship for the third season in a row. This is her fifth straight Order of Merit Championship after claiming the Futures National and Prep Preview titles, respectively, prior to her Bell National three-peat!
Raging to a one-under-par back nine in her final round, Catie Craig (Sautee Nacoochee, GA 2021) earned runner-up honors this weekend in Southern Pines. Craig dropped eight birdies on the weekend and gave Sambach a run for her money on the back nine. From holes 15 to 17, Craig hopped on the birdie train, posting three in a row and finishing the tournament with a weekend total of 70, 73 = 143 (-1).
Taking the third-place trophy, Rory Weinfurther (Midlothian, VA 2020) utilized an impeccable four-under-par first round performance to secure her spot among the tournament’s top finishers. Weinfurther sprinkled two birdies into her final round, heading home with a weekend score of 68, 76 = 144 (+4).
Danielle Suh (Herndon, VA 2020) jumped out to a quick start on Sunday, posting four birdies in the midst of a three-under-par 33 on her front nine. Suh picked up the fourth-place finish with one more birdie on the back nine and a two-day total score of 74, 71 = 145 (+1). Her one-under-par final-round performance was tied for second-best of the day.
Closing out the top finishers in the Bell National division, Adrian Anderson (Murrells Inlet, SC 2022) carded two birdies in her final round. Anderson’s two-day total score of 71, 75 = 146 (+2) was good for fifth-place at Pine Needles. Along with her medal, Anderson heads back to South Carolina as champion of the PKBGT Ping Pong Extravaganza!
It came down to the final hole once more in the Futures National division. Sophie Lauture (Raleigh, NC 2024) prevailed victorious at the PKBGT Tour Championship with a two-day total score of 76, 77 = 153 (+9). Lauture made three birdies on the day including one on the tenth hole to kickstart her back nine.
Already equipped with the PKBGT champions glass bowl trophy, Lauture etches her name alongside Sambach and some of the top talents in tour history in winning the 2019 Futures National Order of Merit! She secured her fourth victory of the season at Pine Needles and a spot on the OOM trophy in doing so.
Earning the second-place trophy, falling short of a tiebreaker playoff by one stroke, Ellen Yu (High Point, NC 2026) finished the weekend with a total score of 76, 78 = 154 (+10). Yu made three birdies on the weekend, all of which came in a three-hole streak during her first round.
Emily Wang (Mclean, VA 2024) held on to third place after posting a two-day total score of 78, 77 = 155 (+11). Wang carded two birdies on her front nine and improved by one stroke from her first-round performance! She closed out the tournament with four straight pars.
Rounding out the Futures National top finishers, Grace Ridenour (Cary, NC 2025) and Tyla McAffity (Raleigh, NC 2021) finished in a two-way tie for fourth place. Both players finished with scores of 158 (+14) at the culmination of the weekend. Ridenour kicked off her final round with her lone birdie of the afternoon. McAffity dropped an eagle on the tenth hole to generate momentum on the back nine!
Well, that’s a wrap on the 2019 PKBGT National Series! Thank you to all of our players for participating in an action-packed season of events across the eastern seaboard. Thank you to all of our supportive parents, friends and family who traveled far and wide each weekend to make this season possible. A special thanks to Pine Needles Lodge & GC for their incredible hospitality in hosting this weekend’s event. We wish the best of luck to our graduating seniors heading off to college in the coming days and weeks. Until next season!
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/.