64 professional women golfers sat in the King & Bear clubhouse this afternoon during a rain delay hoping the skies would clear so they could resume the final round of the 54-hole stroke play portion of the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship. While mother nature did not cooperate, the spirits were brightened with a surprise announcement, a $10,000 contribution to the overall purse.
During the rain delay, the tournament’s Executive Director, Mark Berman, told the story of Ken Hollingsworth’s generosity. Hollingsworth, owner of Access Electrical Contracting of Jacksonville, FL, played in the INK! Charity Pro-am on Monday, the official pro am of the PXGWMPC. An avid golfer who has played in many men’s pro-am events including PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour events, had never played in a women’s pro am nor paid much attention to women’s golf. He was invited to play on one of the PXG teams, and paired with rookie professional Mikayla Fitzgerald of Phoenix who played at Xavier, got to learn about the journey of the developmental women professional players.
Hollingsworth, suddenly smitten with the women’s game, came out to watch the first two rounds. He pulled Berman aside, who explained more deeply about the professional women’s golf landscape and its exorbitant costs, lack of financial reward and even fewer playing opportunities. Hollingsworth simply asked how he could be involved even at this late date, to which Berman asked how he wanted to be involved. Hollingsworth’s simple reply, “I want to add $10,000 to the purse. Right now”. Hollingsworth’s contribution is being split evenly between today’s stroke play event and next week’s Match Play Championship.
When Berman shared the story with the players, the stunned crowd gave way to cheers and even a few tears. Every player personally thanked Hollingsworth, who said humbly to the roomful of about 120 players, sponsors, parents and volunteers, “I just want you to be able to play and I want to watch you succeed”.
Succeed they did, as Jessica Porvasnick (8-under) prevailed with a one-shot victory over Sophia Garcia. Both women were playing in the second stage last week of LPGA Q-school, with Garcia getting the better of that week. It was Porvasnick’s 7th professional win and second win of the season on the WAPT. Porvasnick took home $5,000 for her first place check, which was the original amount of the winner’s share. The additional $5,000 to the stroke play purse allowed the tournament to pay deeper than its traditional 40% of the field, a move also heralded by the players. Final round scores are attached along with a photo of Ms. Porvasnick.
“This is what mission accomplished looks like” said Berman. “We’re exposing people who love the game to a part of the game that for too long has been the dark corner of the professional golf landscape. Our whole goal is for these players to feel valued and meaningful in the game, and Ken just made a significant impact. I know for a fact he is not done, and I am so looking forward to having him on our journey to create some change”.
The PXG Women’s Match Play Championship is a unique 10-day tournament featuring a stroke play tournament, seeding a match play event, both being held at World Golf Village. The PXGWMPC is a women’s initiatives collaboration with Generation W and featuring the Generation W Links to Leadership Summit presented by Circle K, which is being held between the two golf events on October 29 at the St. Johns County Convention Center. The PXGWMPC hosted its official pro-am on Monday, October 25 and raised more than $50,000 for Investing in Kids (INK!), IN addition to Title Sponsor PXG, the four Founding Partners include Murgado Automotive Bentley & Maserati of Jacksonville, Baptist Health, SQAIRZ Golf Shoes and On Point Ball Markers.
- The PXG Women’s Match Play Championship is a back-to-back tournament series with the first week of 54-holes of stroke play being contested on King & Bear Golf Course from October 26-28. The second tournament is a 64-woman Match-Play tournament, seeded by the stroke play event, with its own unique format. The 64 competitors will be split into 16 four-player groups. Each player will play each group member twice in nine-hole head-to-head matches. Each hole is worth one point to be either won, lost, or halved. The winner of each of those nine-hole matches will also receive a bonus point. The player after her six matches with the most cumulative points, advances to the Knockout Rounds, starting with the Round of 16. Pool Play will be contested on November 1 and 2, beginning at 9:00 AM EST. The Round of 16 and the Quarterfinal matches will be played on November 3 starting at 9:00 AM EST. The Semifinal matches will commence on November 4 at 9:00 EST AM, following by the consolation match and then the Championship Match.
- Admission and parking for fans will be free with website registration, courtesy of Official Printing Partner, Kessler Creative, a St Johns County-based woman-owned print marketing firm, Said president Dina Kessler “The goal is for people to see these amazing female athletes play, and we want to provide that experience at no charge to our community.” Kessler Creative is creating all the on-course and promotional signage for the @PXGWMPC.
- In addition to $50,000 in prize money and a PXG equipment and apparel stipend, players will compete for a one-of-a-kind trophy supplied by Ocean Sole Africa, a Ponte Vedra Beach-based non-profit which fashions sculptures out of recycled flip-flops from Kenya. The 2021 PXG Women’s Match Play Championship will receive a manatee sculpture resting on top of a piece of driftwood found on a local Northeast Florida beach. It was created by Kenyan artist Mwrani and took her 22.5 hours to make and used more than 40 pounds of recycled rubber flip flops. Ocean Sole Africa will also provide similarly crafted one-of-a-kind trophies for the Runner Up and each semifinalist as well as for the Stroke Play winner and runner up.
- Nashville band Them Vibes, founded and managed by Ponte Vedra native Kim Paige, will be the featured band in the St Johns County VCB Between the Tournaments Concert, hosted by the and Jacksonville International Airport. The invitation-only VIP concert will be held on October 30 at the host hotel, the Marriott World Golf Village Renaissance Resort Hotel.
The PXG Women’s Match Play Championship will feature 64 female professionals who are pursuing their dream of playing on the LPGA Tour. The golfers will battle it out over two weeks in two separate, but connected, tournaments. The first week will feature a 54-hole stroke-play format on the King & Bear course, which will also seed the second week’s event, a 64-woman match play championship at Slammer & Squire.
Information on elevated hospitality opportunities, Pro-Am spots, tickets, key sponsorships, and volunteering is available on the tournament website at www.PXGWPC.com and by calling MediaShare Consulting Group at 904.838.4962. You may reach the Tournament Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark D. Berman