(Ponte Vedra Beach, FL) – Thanks to consistently strong play during the East Coast Women’s Professional Tour Winter Series, Ji Eun (JB) Baik and Hailey Davidson both punch their tickets to next month’s Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open. The Colorado Women’s Open granted exemptions to the top two players of the ECWPGT Winter Series, which featured seven tournaments in the Central Florida area from January 17 to March 30, 2022. The news was announced by ECWPGT Tour Director, Mark Berman, after the full field announcement by Colorado Women’s Open Tournament Director, Brandon Roll.
Baik and Davidson racked up the most points of the Tour’s 173 players across those events, and both came on strong at the end of the Series to climb the ladder. Baik was the Winter Series Points Champion, moving to the top of the list with her victory in the Series Finale at Rio Pinar Country Club, firing a 71-69-74, the last round on a blustery day. The wire-to-wire winner, she posted a hole in one in the second round, the Tour’s first. With her second-place finish in the finale, Davidson climbed from 4th place on the Winter Series points list to the second spot, earning her the second exemption. Both players, along with China’s Mohan Du who finished third on the list, also receive paid exemption to the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship being held at World Golf Village in October.
“Ultimately, winning an exemption to the Colorado Women’s Open and the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship is the cherry on top to an amazing week I already had at Rio Pinar, and honestly it can’t be any better,” Baik said understatedly. She added, “I feel super blessed and super grateful.” Baik, a 2017 graduate of Mississippi State University, is originally from South Korea and now makes her home in Cumming, GA. She was a rookie on the Epson Tour in 2018. Davidson lives in Kissimmee, FL.
Being held at Denver’s Green Valley Ranch Golf Club from June 1 - 3, 2022, the Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open is run by the Colorado Open Golf Foundation and known as the richest of the State Women’s Open tournaments. Inspirato signed on just this year and immediately announced it was matching the Women’s purse to the Men’s purse at $250,000 with a $100,000 winner’s check. The PXG Women’s Match Play Championship is run by the ECWPGT and will be held for its second year at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL With its combined stroke play and match play format, the event is widely viewed as the Major of Women’s Developmental Professional Golf. As much a women’s initiative, the festivities also include the Generation W Links to Leadership Summit and the INK! Charity Pro-am, which raised more than $50,000 in 2021 for Investing in Kids, which supports underserved public schools in St. Johns County, Fl.
Said Davidson, “These exemptions mean a lot to me. I don’t have status in many places, so this tour has been what I have. I’m working full time and take what I can get. This gives me two high profile events and the more I can play, the better I can play, the more opportunities I have to win.” In her press conference she discussed just what it takes to play at this level and the fact that most women work an additional full-time job. Having the opportunity to play an event like the Colorado Women’s Open with its $250,000 purse and performing well might mean the difference between getting to practice more than a couple hours a day a few days a week. “I work 2:00 PM -11:00 PM so I can practice in the mornings, but it does get exhausting. If I had the freedom to practice all day, every day, who knows where this goes? One good financial opportunity like this could really change the world for any of us out here. I’m going to make the best of this opportunity.”
The relationship between the ECWPGT and the Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open was the brainstorm of Tournament Director, Brandon Roll, whom Berman met when his daughter, Hannah played in the Colorado Women’s Open in 2020 to launch her pro career. “We see in Mark the passion to grow the women’s professional game and in the ECWPGT the implementation of a big vision,” said Roll, “We chose to align with the ECWPGT because our vision is also to create more opportunities for these players. With this relationship, we can cast a wider net to reach professional players who may not know we’re here and because we believe deeply that a rising tide raises all boats. We’ve attracted about a dozen other ECWPGT players because of this relationship. We wish them all luck and we know they’ll enjoy their trip to Denver.”
The ECWPGT is one of only three women’s developmental tours in the U.S.. Based in Florida, the ECWPGT is designed to serve the eastern part of the country, and also hosts events in California. Fields are open to players from anywhere and has players from 26 states and more than a dozen countries. Seeing through his own daughter’s eyes the limited opportunity for women to chase their professional dreams, particularly in comparison to their male peers who have more than 30 “mini tours” leading to the PGA TOUR, Mark Berman, with more than 25 years of golf industry marketing experience, launched the Tour in January to provide more playing and earning opportunities for professional female golfers. The ECWPGT has a dual mission to create opportunities outside the ropes for women athletes and has aligned with women’s organizations Generation W, a women’s mentoring and coaching organization, and Forehire, which creates connection for women golfers and industry companies looking for employees.
The East Coast Women’s Professional Golf Tour prepares players for the Epson Tour which feeds directly into the LPGA Tour. “With literally hundreds of women working toward the LPGA Tour level and there only being so many spots for them to play, we are creating a viable pathway for them to earn more of a living and further work toward their dreams,” commented Berman.
The ECWPGT is open to developmental professional players including those on the Epson Tour and Ladies European Tours and is also open to elite level amateurs and college players. The tour will accept amateur players ages 15 and over on a waitlist basis as space permits. Registration is currently open on the Tour’s website www.ECWPGT.com. Follow at @ecwpgt.
About The Colorado Open Golf Foundation
The Colorado Open Golf Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public corporation that was formed for the primary purpose of fostering and encouraging the sport of golf in the state of Colorado by administering the Colorado Open Championships and through financial aid to educational programs aimed at developing the interest and ability of Colorado’s youth in the sport of golf and those who conduct or support clinics and otherwise provide coaching instruction for Colorado’s youth, and for the secondary purpose of advancing the charitable purpose of promoting sportsmanship, recreation and health in the state of Colorado.
In 2005 the Foundation became a chapter of the First Tee Network, a nationalized youth development organization that enables kids to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges. By seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, we create active learning experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that kids can carry to everything they do. The First Tee - Green Valley Ranch has impacted over 57,000 kids throughout the metro using the First Tee Life Skills Curriculum to build character in tomorrow’s citizens and leaders.
Launched in 2011, Inspirato (NASDAQ: ISPO) is the innovative luxury travel subscription brand that provides affluent travelers access to a managed and controlled portfolio of hand-selected vacation options, delivered through a subscription model to ensure the service and certainty that discerning customers demand. The Inspirato Collection includes branded luxury vacation homes available exclusively to subscribers and guests, accommodations at five-star hotel and resort partners, and custom travel experiences. In 2019, Inspirato improved travel by introducing Inspirato Pass, the world’s first luxury travel subscription that includes all nightly rates, taxes, and fees. For more information, visit www.inspirato.com.
Contact: Mark D. Berman