A mother who played on the LPGA Tour and a father who currently caddies for Cristie Kerr, Mallory Blackwelder has golf in her blood.
“I grew up watching golf all the time,” said Blackwelder. “My mom was Rookie of the Year on the LPGA in 1980 and my dad caddied at the time. They actually met at Q-School, he was caddying for another player and here we are happily ever after.”
The 25-year-old first started competing competitively at 11-years-old when much to her dismay, her mother and former LPGA Tour member, Myra Blackwelder, signed her up to play on Kentucky’s junior golf circuit, the Pepsi Junior Golf Tour.
“I didn’t want to play, I had no interest,” said Blackwelder. “They pretty much made me play in my first event and said if you hate it, you never have to play in another one but let’s give it a shot. I think I shot 69 on nine-holes, I was no prodigy, but I met some other girls and that made it fun.”
A mere two years later, Blackwelder was making a name for herself as she won six out of seven Pepsi Junior Golf Tour events in the older 14-15 age division.
Blackwelder’s game continued to flourish from there and she began playing in national junior tournaments where she earned the attention of several elite universities. Ultimately, Blackwelder made the decision to head south and accepted a scholarship from the golf enriched University of Florida.
While at the University of Florida, Blackwelder’s game blossomed and she recorded one win in collegiate competition. It wasn’t until the stars seemingly aligned for Blackwelder and her mother took the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky that she would come back to her Old Kentucky Home.
Blackwelder returned to the Bluegrass State her junior year and continued her impressive play where she recorded her second collegiate win. In addition to her stellar collegiate play, Blackwelder won the 2007 Women’s Western Amateur Championship and made the cut at the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
After a successful collegiate career, Blackwelder turned her attention to the professional ranks and qualified for the 2010 LPGA Tour. During her rookie season, Blackwelder divided her time between the LPGA, Symetra Tour, and Ladies European Tour (LET), and posted a season-best tied for ninth finish at the Symetra Tour’s Riviera Nayarit Challenge.
“I got a full-card on the LET, conditional status on the LPGA and I had full status on the Symetra Tour,” said Blackwelder. “I wasn’t mentally ready to commit to a full year in Europe. I played 11 or 12 European Tour events, I played five Symetra events, and three LPGA events. I was all over the place and looking back at it, it was a rookie mistake. I really should have dedicated myself to either the Symetra Tour or LET.”
After a disappointing rookie season on the LPGA Tour, Blackwelder lost her card but was then presented with an opportunity of a lifetime. The Versailles, Ky. native was casted to be a contestant on Golf Channel’s Big Break Ireland after a spur of the moment audition in Daytona Beach.
Blackwelder hopped in her car to drive from Kentucky to Florida for the first Symetra event of the season when she was delivered the heart wrenching news that her grandfather passed away. Forced to return home to Kentucky for his funeral, it wasn’t until a little advice from her agent at the time that Blackwelder decided to give the audition a shot.
“It was such an awesome experience,” said Blackwelder. “I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason.”
Blackwelder quickly made a name for herself on the show and earned the nickname, “The Eliminator” for her ability to eliminate her fellow contestants. After an impressive run on the show, her journey ended after reaching the final three but Blackwelder came out of the experience with an added bonus, her current boyfriend and fellow cast member, Julien Trudeau.
“It’s been good,” said Blackwelder of her relationship with Trudeau. “I kind of joke around like neither one of us won but we kind of found each other so I’m happy about that. I think once again, everything happens for a reason.”
In 2012, Blackwelder turned her attention to the Symetra Tour season. Much to her dismay, she was only able to play in three events prior to an elbow injury which eventually required surgery. The toughest part for Blackwelder during her time away from the game was avoiding the tour’s live scoring.
“It was really hard,” said Blackwelder of her injury. “I had surgery in June and it was really difficult, I kind of tried to avoid watching the scoreboards every week.”
This year Blackwelder returns to exactly where she belongs as she is scheduled to compete in this week’s season-opening VisitMesa.com Gateway Classic at Longbow Classic.
“It’s funny, it’s actually kind of weird to see everybody because I just haven’t seen everybody in so long,” said Blackwelder. “I’m really happy to be back out and I think it’s going to be a good year.”