RODRIGUEZ RALLIES TO TAKE 36-HOLE LEAD IN CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION
After the second round of the 2021 LPGA Professionals National Championship presented by Voice Caddie, Alisa Rodriguez (Austin, Texas) leads the way at -4. Four players sit tied for second at -2: first-round leader Allie Knight (Knoxville, Tenn.), Ashley Grier (Villanova, Pa.), defending champion Stephanie Connelly Eiswerth (Fleming Island, Fla.), and Sandra Changkija (Kissimmee, Fla.). A total of 33 players made the cut at 17-over par.
Rodriguez, a PGA Professional who works as the lead instructor at Balcones Country Club, came into day two in a tie for third. She recorded two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine but fired a 3-under 32 on the back to take the lead. “I was hitting the ball really well,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve been hitting my irons really good the past couple of weeks. Today I finally hit my driver in the fairway, and I was able to make a couple putts coming in for a solid score today. [Playing Kingsmill is] incredible. The greens are rolling really well, and it’s just nice to play at another place where they play an LPGA event.”
The top-eight finishers in the Championship division will earn exemptions into the 2022 KPMG PGA Women’s Championship, to be held June 21-26 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Rodriguez, Knight, Grier, Connelly Eiswerth and Changkija all competed in the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Atlantic Athletic Club after finishing in the top eight at last year’s PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The 2020 LPGA Professionals National Championship was canceled due to COVID-19.
“To go back would be incredible. I had two juniors come and watch me play at the KPMG and to show them that I can do it, it’s really cool for them to keep pushing themselves and hopefully they’ll be able to play professionally one day too,” said Rodriguez, who made her first LPGA start at the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “I’m just trying to take it one shot at a time and one hole at a time, and to get myself in the position to have a chance tomorrow, that’s exactly where I wanted to be coming in.”
HIRST MAINTAINS ONE-STROKE LEAD IN CHALLENGE DIVISION
First-round Challenge division leader Charlaine Hirst (Pinehurst, N.C.) continued to sit atop the leaderboard after the second day at the LPGA Professionals National Championship presented by Voice Caddie. Hirst, who is vying for her fourth-straight title, said she is having a wonderful experience at Kingsmill Resort despite some up-and-down golf. The bonding time with her daughter, her caddie for the week, remains the cherry on top.
“Day two was a struggle from the get-go. I hit the driver really well, but I could not get the fairway clubs going, which I had really good shots with yesterday. And the putting was good today, but I missed a lot of makeable birdies and putts,” said Hirst. “[But being with my daughter] was just as good, if not better. I just had a good time and a good group, so it was a nice relaxing day. And my pro-am team stayed one more day, so I was more relaxed today versus yesterday where I was a little tighter.”
For Monday’s round, Charlaine and Allie Hirst prepped with some evening shopping. As the mother-daughter duo set the sights on the final day, Charlaine said they’ll stick to a similar gameplan.
“I’m going to go shopping again, that’s my instructions,” said Hirst. “And we have to hit a thrift store today in addition. But I’m just going to do what I did [yesterday] – go sit in the hot tub, go down the lazy river, and then go roll some putts tomorrow. Just got to make them when they need to be made.”
Louise Ball (Knoxville, Tenn.), Stephanie Peareth (Homestead, Fla.) and Lieschen Wienke (Bloomington, Ill.) sit tied for second. Peareth, an LPGA Professional and Site Director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf – Miami, has Girls Golf eLeader Sara Matos on her bag. Originally from England, Peareth was channeling a bit of Solheim Cup spirit on the course as she and Sara donned Team Europe and Team USA outfits.
“We decided to go Team Steph and Sara Solheim Cup theme today, so we’re Team Europe and Team USA. I tried to get some Europe luck out there on the golf course,” said Peareth. “I couldn’t scare the hole if I tried, but other than that I’m solid. I’m really happy with how my game showed up the last couple of days. I got tired a little bit on the back nine, but no disasters so that’s a new one for me. I’m very excited to be in this position.”
SECOND-ROUND PLAY SUSPENDED FOR SENIOR DIVISION
The second round of the LPGA Professionals National Championship presented by Voice Caddie was suspended at 3:48 p.m. due to inclement weather moving into the area. Play was officially called at 6:28 p.m. as conditions did not improve.
Play will resume Tuesday at 8 a.m. The final round for the Championship and Challenge divisions will begin off No. 1 and No. 10 at 10 a.m. Once the Senior division completes the second round of play, the cut will be determined and players re-paired for the final round beginning at 11:00 a.m. of No. 1 and No. 10.
The 2016 Championship division winner Lisa Grimes (Gold Canyon, Ariz.) holds a two-shot lead over 2018 Senior division winner Barbara Moxness (Rio Verde, Ariz.) through 27 holes.
The top-eight finishers in the Senior division will qualify for the 2022 Senior LPGA Championship presented by Old National Bank as well as any competitors over age 45 who finish in the top 10 in the Championship division. Additionally, the top-five finishers in the Championship division and top-three finishers in the Senior division at least 50 years of age will qualify for the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
Ashley Grier (T2, -2) on her putting during the second round:
“My putting saved me today, which was nice. I had played with my dad a week or so ago and I hadn’t played with him in years. He was putting so good, so I stole a tip from him, and it’s been saving me this week for sure.”
Allie Knight (T2, -2) on the opportunity for LPGA and PGA Professionals to compete at this level:
“It’s awesome. It’s just a great opportunity to get into an LPGA major. That’s huge and you can’t beat that.”
Stephanie Peareth (T2, +9) on competing at Kingsmill Resort
“Oh, it’s absolutely beautiful. The golf course is great, I had an incredible playing group and it’s an absolutely gorgeous golf course. It’s a nice little breeze, but it’s in great condition. It’s been a pleasure.”