McEvoy, Culver, Gardner claim Women’s division titles at Sea Island; Whitt, Scott, Holmes win Men’s divisions at Kiawah Island
SEA ISLAND, Georgia and KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Magical. Thrilled. Shocked. All words used to describe the feeling of winning at the 2022 PGA National Club Championship.
The 2022 PGA National Club Championship began at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, Georgia, where the women’s divisions competed from Feb. 4-6 across the Seaside, Plantation and Retreat courses. The championship featured three women’s divisions: Open (any age), Senior (50+ years old) and Champion (60+ years old).
Catherine McEvoy (Innis Arden Golf Club, Greenwich, Connecticut) recorded a final round 3-under-par-69 to win the Women’s Open Division. Lin Culver (Hammock Dunes Club, Palm Coast, Florida) registered a 5-over-par-75 to capture the Women’s Senior Division. Joan Gardner (Mount Vernon Country Club, Alexandria, Virginia) posted a 7-over-par-77 to finish atop the Women’s Champion Division.
McEvoy recorded rounds of 76-74-69 to finish at 5-over-par 219 and clinch a one-shot victory.
The 2021 Women’s Champion Ali Mulhall (Round Valley Golf Club, Morgan, Utah) finished in second place at 6-over-par 220, followed by Blakesly Brock (The Honors Course, Ooltewah, Tennessee) at 10-over-par 224 in third.
McEvoy entered Monday’s final round T-2 and five strokes off the lead. That deficit didn’t last long as she collected five birdies and posted the field’s lowest score of the day.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock,” said McEvoy. “I knew it was going to be a good challenge and I played against some really good girls. I stuck with the basics and I hit the ball really well all three days, which is really important and put me in a good position.”
Following bogeys on the Plantation course’s par-4 1st and par-5 4th holes, McEvoy birdied the par-3 7th and par-5 8th.
“That was a good momentum booster,” said McEvoy. “Going into the back nine, I knew things were going to get tight among the people at the top. I hung on with a bunch of pars and finished strong at the end with a few birdies, which closed it out for me.”
McEvoy focused on making pars while battling high winds during her opening round on Seaside. She tallied 11 pars en route to a 6-over-par 76, which led the field after the first round. Her strong ball striking continued at the Retreat course, where she recorded a 2-over-par-74.
“It’s been really fun to meet people from all over the country,” said McEvoy. “I played with some great people all week. Sea Island was an awesome place to play. It’s definitely a special place.”
Culver’s Senior Women’s title was extra special as it came on her birthday. Her phone was inundated with celebratory messages following the round.
“I’m very, very happy,” said Culver. “It was really funny that I was getting texts from my club. I’m always trying to be under the radar, but I guess they were all watching today online and I didn’t know that.”
Culver finished at 13-over-par 227 to win by six strokes over Kristyl Sunderman (Eagles Landing Country Club, Stockbridge, Georgia) at 19-over-par 233 and Robin Krapfl (Westbrook Village Golf Club, Peoria, Arizona), who finished third at 23-over-par 237.
Culver, who shot 6-over-par 78 (Retreat) and 2-over-par 74 (Plantation) on the first two days, focused on not making higher than a bogey in the final round.
“I was just trying to get it in play, and I was really lucky because I didn’t make anything more than a bogey,” said Culver. “I was just trying to keep everything in play and trying to play safe.”
Meanwhile, Gardner faced a 4-foot par putt to finish her final round at Seaside completely unaware that if she made the putt, she would win her division.
Gardner sank the putt to clinch victory and finish the week at 23-over-par 237. Lisa Short (Piedmont Driving Club, Atlanta, Georgia) shot 24-over-par 238 to finish second and Barb Hecimovich (Atkinson Resort & Country Club, Atkinson, New Hampshire) was third at 25-over-par 239
“It was a total surprise,” said Gardner. “I’m not a leaderboard follower. All three days I was keeping the ball in play, playing some golf and enjoying the surroundings. Each of those three courses were a challenge in their own way. Of course you want to play well, but winning is not quite top of mind. I was really happy and thrilled to see the final result.”
Gardner, who participated in the inaugural Championship at Pinehurst in 2020, was thrilled to attend the 2022 edition with several others from Virginia.
“Our super senior champion (Linda DiVall) also came down so it was great to have friends that traveled down here,” said Gardner. “I think from Virginia we had around 10 different people, which was great. I feel proud that we were well represented and to represent my club that I’ve been a member of for almost 30 years now.”
The men’s divisions of the 2022 PGA National Club Championship competed Feb. 15-17, on the Ocean, Cougar Point and Turtle Point courses at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. Like the women, the men competed in three divisions: Open (any age), Senior (50+ years old) and Champion (60+ years old)
In the Men’s open division, Stewart Whitt (Canebrake Club, Athens, Alabama) began Friday’s final round T-11 and six shots off the lead. He rapidly climbed the leaderboard en route to 4-under-par 68 and a three-day score of 1-over-par 217.
Whitt finished two strokes ahead of runner-up John Spellerberg (Fremont Golf Club, Fremont, Nebraska) at 3-over-par 219. AJ Morris (Aspen Golf Club, Aspen, Colorado) and Kyle Tibbetts (Framingham Country Club, Framingham, Massachusetts) tied for third place at 5-over-par 221.
Whitt, who played in the 2020 Championship at Pinehurst and the 2021 edition in Palm Springs, was pleased with his improvement in his third national club championship.
“I played a little bit more consistently this week,” he said. “I was able to make some birdies early today. That kept me going the rest of the round, and I was able to finish it off on 18 with a par.”
Whitt registered five birdies to post the lowest score in his Men’s division on Friday. He was one of just four players to shoot under par and credited his club’s PGA Director of Golf Micky Wolfe for his performance.
“Micky has been a huge part of my journey at Canebrake,” said Whitt. “He’s fantastic. We’ve got a great junior program that he’s involved with and we’re lucky to have him.”
Chad Scott (Westbrook Country Club, Mansfield, Ohio) was at a loss for words after shooting 4-over-par 76 to secure a one-shot victory at 4-over-par 220 in the Senior Men’s Division. Brian Lovett (Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Missouri) and the 2020 Senior Men’s Champion Coleman Tidwell (Idle Hour Country Club, Macon, Georgia) tied for second at 5-over-par 221.
“I’m speechless, completely speechless,” said Scott. “Nobody’s more surprised than I am.”
Scott shot 4-under-par 68 on Wednesday at Cougar Point and 4-over-par 76 yesterday at the Ocean Course. He, along with the entire field, battled limited visibility and strong winds on Friday.
“The last few days were survival mode,” said Scott. “The first day at Cougar Point was very scorable. Thankfully, I got off to a hot start and hung on. The guys are all so good.”
The National Club Championship features amateur club champions from across the country who were invited by their facility’s PGA Professional to compete in the event. Many of the participants, including Scott, raved about their PGA Professionals back home.
“We’ve got the best pro on earth in Greg Smith,” said Scott. “He has the all-time greatest personality and is a hard worker. I can’t say enough good things about him, and everything the PGA of America puts on is first-class.”
Keith Holmes’s (Cuscowilla Golf Club, Eatonton, Georgia) total score of 3-over-par 219 secured a three-stroke victory in the Men’s Champion Division over Bob Brooks (Bella Vista Country Club, Bella Vista, Arkansas) at 6-over-par 222. Paul Embree (Glen View Club, Golf, Illinois) finished third at 7-over-par 223.
“Man, this is great [to win],” said Holmes. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to compete. It’s just been great to be out here and compete with these guys.”
Holmes got off to a hot start, shooting an even-par 72 in the first round (Turtle Point) to finish the opening day one stroke off the lead. He followed that with 4-under-par 68 (Cougar Point) to take a three-stroke lead going into the final round. It was the lowest score in the Men’s Champion division, and one of only two scores in the 60s across all three days. Overall, he birdied 10 of his first 36 holes against just four bogeys.
“I love this place, it’s fantastic,” said Holmes. “All three courses we played were in great condition. The staff did a tremendous job getting the greens ready. It couldn’t have been a better experience.”
The final round was played in high winds and no player finished better than 2-over-par. Holmes recorded two birdies – on the par-5 2nd and the par-4 4th – and finished at 7-over-par 79. With the rest of the field also battling the elements, his performance was enough to secure the victory in a championship he will always remember.
“I play in a decent number of events,” said Holmes. “I would rate this right up there with the best of them.”
Andrew McDonald from The Hills Country Club in Austin, Texas, registered a hole-in-one on Turtle Point’s 155-yard par-3 14th hole on Thursday. Click here to see a photo.
The 2023 PGA National Club Championship will be hosted at Troon North Golf Club and The Westin Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, this December. The top five finishers in each of the 2022 divisions will receive invitations to the 2023 Championship.