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.