When the LPGA restarts the 2020 season in Toledo, Ohio, it will be a reunion of sorts for Haley Moore.
Her parents met as freshmen at Ohio State. Mom played tennis and dad was recruited as the short and long snapper for the football team. Moore’s father, Tom, grew up in Orrville, Ohio, which is situated about 2 ½ hours east of Toledo. She has family on both sides in the area and several planned to make the trip to the Marathon Classic in early August to watch her compete.
With the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament deciding to close next week’s event to spectators, however, it’s unclear whether or not the Marathon will carry on as ticket sales and pro-ams are vital to the event’s bottom line.
Never has a rookie year on the LPGA looked stranger, with lifelong dreams being halted almost as soon as they’d begun. Everyone has handled the prolonged break and barrage of bad news differently.
Moore, one of the bright lights in this year’s rookie class, might be the most tournament-ready player at the new LPGA Drive On Championship later this month at Inverness. While some players have gone five months without competing, Moore has teed it up in 11 tournaments since mid-March.
At her latest, the Cactus Tour event at Stallion Mountain in Las Vegas, Moore carded a final-round, course-record 64 to win by three strokes. It marked her fourth title at Stallion Mountain and second Cactus Tour title since the LPGA shut down in mid-February. How many course records does that give Moore?
“I don’t know,” she said, with a laugh, “there are so many.”
Gemma Dryburgh knows how important it is to feel a scorecard in hand – not to mention a trophy. The latest winner on the Rose Ladies Series said it’s impossible to know exactly where one’s game stands without competition.
The Scot was prepared to fly out next Monday for the U.S., in time for a two-week quarantine in Texas, before the two-tournament swing in Toledo. Even with the next two LPGA events in Scotland, Dryburgh considered it worth the effort to come to the U.S. given that there were two tournaments.
Now with Marathon back in question, however, she’s not so sure.
The Old American Golf Club, host of the Volunteers of America LPGA event, in The Colony, Texas, offered LPGA players an honorary membership last year. Dryburgh took them up on the offer and it’s coming in handy as she and her caddie plan to stay there during quarantine with her host family from the last two years.
“I’ll keep to myself as much as possible,” she said of going back and forth from the house to the club.
Everything is back up in the air though after the Memorial’s news.
Career breakthroughs have come in surprising places for many players. Both Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi, the two stars of last year’s inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, won their first professional titles during the COVID-19 break along with two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman. Kupcho, a Colorado native, broke through at the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open at Green Valley Ranch for a $50,000 prize, which is mammoth in today’s mini-tour landscape.
Fassi won her first professional title on a tour many had never even heard of until this break – the Women’s All Pro Tour. The former Arkansas standout went wire-to-wire at the Cooper Communities NWA Classic, winning about 30 minutes from the site of her NCAA triumph on the Razorbacks’ home course. Fassi won $7,500.
Gillman also won her first pro title on the WAPT in her home state of Texas.
Patty Tavatanakit, another promising rookie on the LPGA, won an Eggland’s Best event in central Florida last month and pocketed $1,500.
Several players have taken to playing in men’s mini-tour events, with Symetra Tour player Emily Pedersen beating a field full of men on the Ecco Tour last month in Denmark.
LPGA veteran Mina Harigae hasn’t competed in as many Cactus Tour events as Moore, but she has won four of them, rediscovering the joy of competing in the process.
This week Dryburgh will join several other LPGA pros and a host of LET players and up-and-comers for the first women’s professional event ever held at Royal St. George’s. The links course was set to host the men’s British Open next week before it was canceled.
“They’ve got the rough set up like they would’ve for the Open,” said Dryburgh. “It will be a good challenge.”
These days challenges are the only thing that’s not in short supply.