GREENWOOD, S.C. — For a second consecutive year, the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls' Golf Tour (PKBGT) and Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic are partnering to host the Women’s Health Classic Junior Challenge, a qualifying event with the winner receiving one of two sponsor exemptions into the Symetra Tour’s Self Regional Healthcare Women’s Health Classic from May 10-13.
The Junior Challenge is a series of junior girls golf tournaments that end with a final qualifier in Greenwood, S.C., from March 24-25 at the Links at Stoney Point. This year, the Junior Challenge featured six pre-qualification events, bringing together the top-30 junior female golfers on the East Coast between ages 11-18.
“The Links at Stoney Point is very excited about hosting the PKBGT Junior Challenge andpromoting women’s golf,” said Jim Medford, chairman and owner of the Links at Stoney Point and the Women's Health Classic Tournament Director. “This series of events enhances our continued efforts to support and promote women's golf.”
Among the featured players in this week’s field are nine individuals from South Carolina, including 2017 Junior Challenge champion Lauren Freyvogel (Gibsonia, Pennsylvania), Duke University commit and top-200 junior ranked player Megan Furtney (South Elgin, Illinois) and Katherine Schuster (Kill Devil Hills, N.C.), who has one win and three top-5 finishes so far in 2018. In addition, two Greenwood natives—Anna Grace Brock and Phoebe Carles—qualified for the challenge and will represent their hometown this weekend.
When the dust settles on Sunday afternoon, the 2018 Junior Challenge champion will receive a sponsor exemption into the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic, a Symetra Tour tournament that will also be contested at the Links at Stoney Point. It is the fourth of 21 Symetra Tour events on the schedule this season.
"The Women’s Health Classic Junior Challenge is a great opportunity for junior female golfers in the region to be exposed to the professional game,” says PKBGT director and co-founder Mike Parker. “We are excited to partner with the premier event on the Symetra Tour again and watch a talented up-and-coming junior girl from the region compete against some of the best golfers in the world."
PKBGT was founded in Greensboro, N.C., out of a local LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. LPGA-USGA Girls Golf is the principle initiative of the LPGA Foundation, the non-profit arm of the LPGA.
In 2017, the Women’s Health Classic Junior Challenge represented the first East Coast opportunity for a junior player to earn access to a professional women’s golf event. This year, more than 280 players are registered to compete in the Junior Challenge, representing 13 different states and two countries.
As the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour, the Symetra Tour has graduated a total of 137 women to the LPGA since 1999.
“Over the years, several PKBGT alumnae have moved on to the Symetra Tour, including Allison Emrey, Lori Beth Adams and Laura Wearn, just to name a few,” said Mike Nichols, the Chief Business Officer for the Symetra Tour. “We look forward to having the winner of the Junior Challenge compete in Greenwood in May alongside the future LPGA stars on the Symetra Tour.”