Happy To Be Playing

Grier Gets Call As Alternate … Drives 2 Hours On Monday To Compete In Women’s Amateur

 

By David Shefter, USGA

 

Gladwyne, Pa. – If anyone was happy to see a weather delay on Monday it was Ashley Grier. Grier actually wasn’t even at Philadelphia Country Club as the first round of stroke-play qualifying commenced on Monday. In fact, she officially wasn’t in the field.

 

Ashley Grier, of Hagerstown, Md., was a last-minute replacement for Morgan Pressel, who withdrew on Monday due to a family emergency. (John Mummert/USGA)

But when Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., withdrew early Monday because of a family emergency, the USGA quickly hit the phones to find an alternate. When they got through to Grier ’s cellphone, the Hagerstown, Md., resident said she could make it. Grier was the third alternate at the Bethesda, Md., sectional qualifying site, but because Pressel’s withdrawal came on the day of the championship, logistics prevented some alternates from being available to play.

 

Grier, a sophomore-to-be at Jacksonville ( Fla. ) University, was in Clifton, Va., assisting with a team match between girls from Maryland and Virginia. Also there was her friend Kaitlyn Johnston, who plays at Appalachian State. Grier and Johnston made the approximate two-hour drive together.

 

"They called at 10:15 (a.m.),” Grier said. “They were like, ‘Can you be here by 1:45 (p.m.).’ I told them we would be cutting it close, but we would try to make it.”

 

The two pulled into the Philadelphia C.C. parking lot with 15 minutes to spare. But upon arrival, they found out about the weather delays, which eventually moved their starting time to around 6 p.m.

 

"Luckily there was a rain delay because I was not ready to jump right out of the car and start,” said Grier.

 

Unfortunately, Grier was not able to get a practice round in prior to the championship. So once she did start her round, she had little familiarity with the nuances of the William Flynn-designed course, which this week is playing 6,368 yards (par 71). The rains also slowed up the greens a bit, but Grier had difficulty finding the right pace for her putts. She finished her round Tuesday morning at 84, a respectable score considering the circumstances.

 

"I was a little bit nervous,” said Grier, who is competing in her first Women’s Amateur. She did play in the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in June, losing in the first round of match play to 13-year-old Stephanie Kono.

 

"(But) I was just happy to be playing. I really haven’t really practiced the past couple of days, so I didn’t know how I was going to hit it when I got out to the driving range.”

 

Pass the popcorn, please: With Tuesday’s weather suspension keeping players in the clubhouse for several hours, Rod Clement, the banquet manager at Philadelphia Country Club, decided to open up one of the dining rooms to show the classic golf movie "Caddieshack.” A showing of “Meet the Parents” with Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller followed.

 

Other players decided to eat lunch or play cards during the delay, which began at 1:04 p.m. Ashley Knoll, Mallory Underwood, Sookhee Baek, Cindy Shin and Jane Park had a card game going. The competitors who had to come out Tuesday morning to complete the first round of stroke-play qualifying were able to finish. It was during the second round that the thunderstorms hit the area.

 

One club employee carried a tray of brownies and cookies into the players’ lockerroom and when she re-emerged, there was just one brownie left. Needless to say, a weather delay is a good time to indulge in a sweet.

More golfing pedigrees: Joni Gossett, whose brother David caddied for her (he won the 1999 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and is now on the PGA Tour where he won the 2002 John Deere Classic) was not the only player in the Women’s Amateur field with a famous sibling or parent.

David Gossett (left), the 1999 U.S. Amateur champion and a current PGA Tour player, discusses strategy with his younger sister, Joni, during first-round action on Tuesday at the Women's  Amateur. David caddied for his sister at this championship, something his sister has done for him on the PGA Tour on two occasions. (John Mummert/USGA)

Alissa Super (formerly Herron) also has a brother who plays the PGA Tour ( Tim Herron ). Super works for a management company that represents Tim Herron as well as Tom Lehman , Juli Inkster, Angela Stanford , Stephanie Louden and 2003 Women’s Open champion Hilary Lunke . In fact, Super spent $2,500 on an airline ticket to fly out to Portland for the 18-hole playoff between Lunke, Stanford and Kelly Robbins.

 

“It was well worth it,” said Super, who rarely plays competitively anymore due to her job responsibilities. Super captured the 1999 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur in Atlanta, Ga., with her brother on the bag.

 

Michelle Doyle , 23, often caddies for her famous father, Champions Tour star Allen Doyle . She was on her dad’s bag when he won the Ford Senior Players Championship in 2001. Her sister, Erin , has also caddied for her father.

 

And Juli Wightman , of Chicopee , Mass. , has an older brother (Tele) who competes regularly on the Canadian Tour.

 

 

 

David Shefter is a staff writer for the USGA. He can be reached at dshefter@usga.org.

 

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