WHALEY INSPIRED BY MOM TO DRIVE ON INTO PRO CAREER
Making her professional debut this week at Brook-Lea Country Club in the fifth annual Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic is Kelly Whaley (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida), a tournament sponsor exemption and University of North Carolina alumna as of this spring.
Ever since she was little, Whaley has been inspired by her mother Suzy. Being the daughter of the first woman President of the PGA of America comes with plenty of expectations, but it’s something that Kelly welcomes and has used to drive on into the start of her professional golf career.
“It’s fun because I get to share all this with her and she’s out here to teach me,” said Whaley, who will head off No. 10 tee tomorrow at 12:42 p.m. ET. “I know people see the name and think I have so much to live up to, but my first event is a chance to prove what I can do, show my name instead of living up to an expectation. Hopefully I can play my game and show who I am rather than just who a Whaley is.”
A four-year starter for the Tar Heels, Whaley competed in every tournament since stepping foot on the Chapel Hill campus. She owns the record for season stroke average of 73.24 set in 2017-2018 as a junior and was a two-time tournament winner at the 2016 Cougar Classic and 2018 Briar’s Creek Invitational.
While she begins her pro journey in Rochester, N.Y., she’ll continue in Rancho Mirage, Calif. at Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament from Aug. 22-25. No matter where the path leads, Whaley will always have mom by her side to support, encourage and lead.
“All she does for women’s golf, the PGA of America and PGA Jr. League is amazing,” Whaley said. “She just came up to Rochester to watch from a women’s leadership summit. All she does is help girls and the next generation pick up a club. There’s no better role model than her. This moment is what I’ve wanted for so many years. She’s my swing coach, mental coach, coaches me through it all.”
MCDONNELL EARNS DANIELLE DOWNEY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
On Monday afternoon, Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic week began with the 13th annual Future of Women’s Golf Pro-Am and was followed by the Danielle Downey Memorial Scholarship reception. The event featured 26 hand-picked current and recently graduated top local high school students alongside Symetra Tour professionals and amateur sponsors.
Just like the tournament, the scholarship was setup to honor Danielle Downey’s legacy and impact in the community. Erica Setzer—one of Downey’s three sisters—presented amateur and tournament sponsor exemption Mikah McDonnell (Webster, New York) with this year’s $2,500 award. A Webster Thomas High School graduate who is headed to the College of William & Mary this fall, she selected The Folds of Honor Military Tribute Program for the additional $2,500 donation that is part of the scholarship.
“It was a really nice feeling to hear Erica talk about family and everything since my dad is such a big influence in my life,” said McDonnell, who chose the charity because her father served in the Marines for several years. “He is always there for me and the award being in Danielle’s honor, to do something along the lines of what she would do was really amazing. All the stories of her are inspiring.”