Australia’s Andrew Kelly may have finished first overall, but the belle of the ball at the Canadian Professional Golf Tour qualifier played out at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville was Isabelle Beisiegel.
She made golf history on the local greens last Friday when she became the first female player to earn a playing card on a men’s professional tour by tying for ninth in the Canadian tour’s Spring Qualifying School. In so doing, she took one of the last two non-exempt spots.
“I was playing with guys 20 years old today … it was funny,” ‘Izzy’, 32, said after finishing.
Originally from Montreal, she has played in two previous Canadian men’s tour qualifiers “so third time was the charm,” she said.
“Oh my goodness, this course is a great challenge, and it was in great shape and the greens were faster than I thought they’d be today. I found the course extremely challenging,” she said, “so challenging I even considered withdrawing from the event … I’m glad I didn’t.”
Izzy recalled after Sunday’s practice round of 18 she went back to her billets house “and I called and talked with husband (back home in Oklahoma) and he said it was okay to come home if I wanted to, if I felt it wasn’t serving me. I prayed to God to renew my purpose and give me strength so that I could persevere, and that’s just what He did.”
Beisiegel, who played at the University of Oklahoma, opened with rounds of 75 and 78, led the field with a 4-under 68 in the third round, then closed it out with a 75 in rainy conditions to finish at 8-over 296.
Izzy played on the LPGA for a couple years but was sidelined with thyroid surgery in 2006 and then worked from 2008 to 2010 before making the decision to try and get back on the tour.
“I watched her yesterday and I couldn’t believe the shots she was making. I saw her birdie No. 10 yesterday, and she also birdied 15 and another hole that I didn’t see,” Morningstar’s Wendy Phillips said.
“It went really well — we’re really happy wit the result,” said Reegan Price, director of business and tournament affairs for the Canadiant Professional Golf Tour, adding, “Izzy did a great job. She played very well and earned the right to play on the Canadian tour this year.
“It’s an exctiting thing,” he continued, “she’s the first woman to ever qualify for a men’s tour, and were very proud to be part of such a history making moment.”
Kelly won the event with a 75 on Friday to finish at 1-under 287. American Phil Telliard (70) was one stroke back.
The Canadian tour kicks off this week in Victoria at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open.