PRASCO CHARITY CHAMPIONSHIP PRE-TOURNAMENT NEWS AND NOTES
MAINEVILLE, Ohio — She didn’t make it to the Buckeye State until late Wednesday evening, but that’s because Liz Nagel (DeWitt, Michigan) was too busy winning the 25th annual Michigan PGA Women’s Open Championship in Thompsonville, Mich., at Crystal Mountain Resort.
After finishing tied for 41st in the Island Resort Championship on Sunday, Nagel squeezed in the event before making the journey to Ohio for the inaugural Prasco Charity Championship. It is one she has not missed in several years, from watching the action as a youngster to competing over the last decade.
“It does a lot validation wise because I’ve been putting in a lot of good work, made some changes on the putting green,” said Nagel, after collecting the $6,000 winner’s check. “I’ll have a good round here and there, felt like I was close. Definitely feels like hard work is paying off and it’s good momentum. I feel like it’s my home tournament and I love it.”
Nagel was the 18-hole leader thanks to a first day 5-under par 67. However, she trailed Alexandra Harkins (Crystal Lake, Illinois)—a recent sponsor exemption at the 34th annual Forsyth Classic—by six shots entering the final round on the Mountain Ridge course.
“She lit it up, had one good round and that’s bound to happen, but in my mind I was like my chances are as good as anybody,” Nagel said. “If you hit it in the right spots you can go low. The back nine has two reachable par-5s, a couple short par-4s and I know this golf course like the back of my hand.”
The Michigan State University alumna made the turn at even par yesterday afternoon. With nine holes to play, she still had some ground to make up.
“We kind of went for it, made a couple great putts on the back,” said Nagel, who went 4-under par coming in, with birdie on Nos. 12, 14, 17 and 18. “Made a great two-putt on 16 which was key because making bogey there was not a time to do that. I had no idea where I was at because there was only two leaderboards out there.”
Even though she did not know where she stood, it didn’t matter. The performance was enough to finish at 9-under par overall and win by three shots.
“On 18, you go for it, pretty short par-5 and I hit it in the greenside bunker. I had probably one of the better up and downs I’ve ever made in my life,” said Nagel. “I thought I was going into a playoff, but then they said I won. I was so shocked that I instantly started crying because I was surprised and happy.”
Her victory makes it back-to-back wins in the event by former Spartans, as Lindsey McPherson (Flushing, Michigan) took the title last year.
“That’s important to me too, have a Michigander win the Michigan Women’s Open and a Spartan,” Nagel said. “It’s really great to continue that, set an example and inspire others. I’ll enjoy my win after we play this next tournament.”
Nagel begins play in the Prasco Charity Championship tomorrow at 8:14 a.m. off No. 10 tee.
MUÑOZ TEES IT UP IN PRASCO CHARITY CHAMPIONSHIP PRO-AM EVENT
It’s not everyday a National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame member tees it up at a Symetra Tour Pro-Am event, but that was the case today when Anthony Muñoz joined Karolina Vlckova (Kladno, Czech Republic) ahead of the inaugural Prasco Charity Championship.
“I was just excited to hear his story,” said Vlckova, currently No. 33 in the Volvik Race for the Card. “He’s another proof that if you believe in yourself, you can get out of anything. It’s really nice to hear these stories that inspire you because what we do is not easy, but they show we should keep working.”
A member at TPC River’s Bend, the former 13-year professional has hosted his Anthony Muñoz Foundation outing at the course since it opened in 2001. The offensive lineman was taken with the third overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998, the first Bengals player to ever be enshrined.
Muñoz was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and nine-time First Team All-Pro. His path to the big time was one of perseverance and hard work.
“My mom raised four kids by herself, never met my dad,” said Muñoz, who attended Chaffey High School in Ontario, Calif., about 40 miles outside of Los Angeles. “My mom was mom, dad, coach, working two to three jobs to provide for five kids. I was a three-sport athlete in high school, that was kind of my way out—football, basketball and baseball.”
Eventually, Muñoz found his way to the University of Southern California (USC). He said he didn’t dream of being a professional football player during his first couple years with the Trojans.
Then his mindset changed, despite a string of misfortunes. During the first game of his senior season, Muñoz sustained an injury that sidelined him the rest of the year. He chose not to redshirt, had surgery in September, went through extensive rehab, started practicing again in December and made it back for the team’s Rose Bowl matchup with Ohio State University on New Year’s Day in 1980.
“Played the entire game and it was just a matter of seeing what would happen,” Muñoz said. “Before the season they had me projected top-five pick. After that surgery, it was like you’d be lucky to get into camp. Crazy thing about it is, played the entire game, probably the best game I played in four years at USC. We beat Ohio State and teams started showing more interest.”
In total, he underwent three knee operations in his four years at USC, forcing him to miss more than half the games in his collegiate career.
“Even after that third knee operation, I still had the passion and desire to rehab,” said Muñoz. “Guys thought I was nuts. I was jumping rope with a cast on. As soon as I got the cast off I was riding a bike.”
After all the injuries, the flip really switched once Muñoz was in the NFL. He didn’t miss a game until his 11th year and played in nearly 200 contests.
His story is one that Symetra Tour professionals can relate to, from a standpoint of never giving up despite the obstacles that may stand in your way.
“I had a passion to be successful,” Muñoz said. “If it doesn’t happen, don’t let it be because you didn’t prepare and you weren’t ready for the opportunity. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t love the game. Never stop learning, never stop being teachable and never stop being coachable. Keep chasing that passion and it will be obvious to you when you exhaust your work ethic.”
ARDINA BACK AT SITE OF AMATEUR WIN FROM 11 YEARS AGO
For Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines), winning the 2007 Western Women’s Golf Association (WWGA) National Junior Golf Championships has to be a foggy memory, but it still connects her to TPC River’s Bend, which served as the host venue 11 years ago.
Back in Maineville this week for the inaugural Prasco Charity Championship as part of the official qualifying tour of the LPGA, Ardina is trying to piece together part of her amateur career.
“My mom was caddying for me,” Ardina said laughingly. “To be honest, I only remember one hole, No. 15. I think that was my last hole. It’s always in good shape and I remember the clubhouse.”
The path to the championship featured a semifinals matchup with current Symetra Tour player Christine Meier (Rochester Hills, Michigan), who Ardina defeated 6 and 5. Then in the title match, the Filipino shotmaker took down LPGA professional Kelly Shon (Seoul, Republic of Korea).
Only 13 years old at the time, Ardina earned the victory the summer before her freshman year of high school. She would go on to attend IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and graduate in 2011.
As we near the first round of the Prasco Charity Championship, the focus turns away from a fun fact about her past and to the task at hand.
“Same routine as every week, play my best,” said Ardina. “The course is a bit long for me because it’s wet. I think the back nine is a little tricky with all the water hazards.”