EL DORADO, Ark. — The only player competing in the fourth annual Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout that hails from the host state is Summar Roachell (Conway, Arkansas), who also attended the University of Arkansas where she graduated last spring.
Playing as one of three sponsor exemptions this week, it will be the first professional event for Roachell.
“Staying home to play college golf and then coming out here to play professional golf in my home state, you see so much support from the people around you,” said Roachell. “I had a great experience at Arkansas and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s really awesome to be in El Dorado and hopefully hear a lot of Hog Calls out there.”
In August, Roachell finished tied for 102nd at 7-over par in Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, just missing the cut of 6-over par to advance to Stage II. However, those at the next score, or scores, will also move on provided the total number of players entered into Stage II following the conclusion of The Evian Championship does not exceed 216. The field is finalized on Monday, so there’s a chance Roachell could receive the notification of advancing.
As she continues to pursue her dreams, Roachell sticks to the path even though it may be bumpy at times along the journey.
“It has been a huge learning experience, you learn a lot about yourself and a lot about your game when you’re out there each week,” Roachell said. “From the travel, to the little daily tasks that your parents or college coaches used to take care of, it has been awesome. I love playing and competing, it keeps me going.”
Once her time at Arkansas was done, Roachell worked her way around various mini tours and also Stage I in 2017. Even though she failed to make it through in her first try, Roachell points to those opportunities as reasons for improvement during the transition to professional golf.
“Going back to last year after Q-School I was disappointed, but I think I really needed that year to grow and learn,” said Roachell. “I think it gave me the confidence to go out and compete at a high level on the Symetra Tour, and in qualifiers on the LPGA Tour. Hopefully I’ll be in those events regularly sometime soon.”
No matter how she has got to this point, Roachell is sure to make the most of her invite to Mystic Creek Golf Club.
“It shows the support that sponsors have for local players and that can be really inspiring for the next generation of golfers that are coming out of the state,” Roachell said. “I think putting myself out there to get the exemption, but also having the performance to back it up, is really important to me and hopefully I can add something to the tournament that might not have been here otherwise.”
GERRY USES FAITH TO MAKE IMPACT OFF THE COURSE
For Jessie Gerry (Madison, Wisconsin), what you do off the course is just as important as what you do on it, and perhaps even more so.
Prior to the start of the inaugural Valley Forge Invitational at Raven’s Claw Golf Club in Pottstown, Pa. earlier this season, Gerry took time out of her tournament preparations to stop at the local Costco. Once there, she bought a carload of food and donated it to the MontCo-Anti Hunger Network pantry.
“I am a Christian and sometimes when I show up to a new city I like to ask the Lord if there is anything he wants me to do while I’m there,” said Gerry, who is coming off a season-best tied for 51st showing in the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge. “I think it’s very important for us as a Tour to try and give back to the communities that we spend time in. I had it on my heart that week to go and help feed some hungry people.”
It wasn’t the first good Samaritan act from Gerry. She’s part of a fellowship group that meets weekly on the road and is led by Cris Stevens. Last month in Milwaukee before teeing it up for the PHC Classic, Gerry joined several of her peers serving at a food pantry.
Meanwhile, Stevens is the Executive Director of Global Golf and has traveled alongside the LPGA Tour since 1982. She is a lay chaplain to the LPGA and Symetra Tour, as well as numerous collegiate programs nationwide. As the leader of a ministry support and outreach, Stevens provides discipleship, mentoring, supportive counseling and life coaching.
With the young women striving to make a difference at each stop on the Symetra Tour schedule, they are also aiming to bring the light of the Gospel to the world.
“I stay in touch with her pretty closely and she sends us the studies that we are going to go through,” Gerry said. “I found out pretty quickly in my first season that it’s really easy to get self-absorbed in golf because it’s such an individual sport and we want to be excellent at what we do. Little things like junior clinics made it more impactful for me, whether I had a good or bad week on the course. I want to be the greatest golfer that I can be, but I also want to be obedient to the Lord and what he has asked me to do as a disciple and follower of Christ.”
This week was challenging for Gerry to give back as she just arrived in Arkansas today after becoming an aunt for the first time yesterday morning. Her younger brother Teddy and his wife Lacey welcomed Isabella Rose Gerry into the world at 4:26 a.m. CT on Wednesday.
As she gets back to work on the course at Mystic Creek Golf Club, she’ll get back to work in the community once she arrives in Prattville, Ala. for the second annual Guardian Championship.
“Cris is working on something for next week,” said Gerry. “With this lifestyle, it’s important to have that time to meet and study the Word. I also think we are trying to grow in the aspect of doing something to make a difference. The cool thing is no matter what religion, there is a lot of ladies on Tour that want to give back to the community. I think we realized how much the people in the city we stop at do for us, so it’s really cool to leave a positive mark when we can.”