Kristy McPherson is joining both the LPGA Tour and its feeder circuit, the Symetra Tour, for 2018 but is unsure how much she will be playing this year.
The Conway native, who was a member of the LPGA Tour for nine full seasons from 2007-15, has been largely relegated to the Symetra Tour for the past two seasons, having played in just eight LPGA Tour events in the 2016-17 seasons combined.
“I still love it and want to work at it,” McPherson said. “I know I can still compete and could win if I just get back to playing the game and get out of my own way. I just have to find the confidence again when I tee it up.
“Unless a job comes up that sweeps me off my feet and I love it as much as I still love competing, then I will start the season playing a few events and go from there.”
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McPherson has a Sports and Entertainment Management degree with a minor in Business from South Carolina.
McPherson spent the holiday season with her parents and family in Murrells Inlet.
She has some charity events in Florida in the coming weeks, then will assess her remaining schedule.
“I will likely play the first few Symetra events in Florida because they are close,” said McPherson, who has a home in the Tampa, Fla., area. “Then I will probably do some Monday qualifiers and play the LPGA events I get into. I’ll likely make a decision on the full year after I get back to Florida and get back to playing enough to get a feel for my game.”
McPherson, 36, was exempt into the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament finals from Nov. 27-Dec. 3 at LPGA International in Daytona, Fla., based on her lifetime LPGA earnings of more than $2.17 million, and that same status will likely qualify her for a few LPGA tournaments in 2017.
She missed the cut to the final round in the finals by nine shots after shooting rounds of 76, 77, 74 and 73.
McPherson played in 18 LPGA events in 2015 and made four cuts, and missed the cut in her five events in 2016 and three in 2017.
On the Symetra Tour, she has played in 18 and 16 events in each of the past two years and has finished outside the top 50 on the money list in each season.
“I don’t see myself playing a full Symetra season,” McPherson said. “That gets expensive and with too many bad years recently the sponsors are hard to come by.”
McPherson had an impressive run on the Symetra Tour (then the Futures Tour) from 2004-06, never missing a cut in 60 events and winning two events in 2006 to graduate to the LPGA.
McPherson, who has overcome juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to have a successful pro career, has been trying to recapture her play from 2009, her third year on the LPGA Tour.
She reached No. 14 in the Rolex World Rankings and was a member of the victorious U.S. Solheim Cup Team in 2009, when she had two runner-up finishes, three top-seven finishes in major championships including a runner-up, and a tie for third in the LPGA Tour Championship to finish 16th on the 2009 money list with $816,000 in earnings.
Injuries, particularly one to an elbow that was exacerbated by her arthritis, have contributed to the curtailing of her success.
McPherson has generally averaged between 243 and 251 yards off the tee in her career. The longest players on tour average nearly 280 yards in driving distance and the median on tour is about 252 yards.
She believes her pursuit of added distance has adversely affected her game over the past several years.
“I would need to be better mentally and forget all the people saying you have to hit it a ton to be able to compete,” McPherson said. “Trying to hit it farther is never a good idea in golf.”
PGA returning to SC
The PGA Professional Championship will be returning to South Carolina in 2019 for the first time since it was held at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in 2014.
Belfair Plantation in Bluffton will host the PGA of America’s 52nd national championship for club and teaching professionals.
It will be conducted for the first time in the spring, from April 28-May 1, 2019. All four rounds will be broadcast live on Golf Channel.
It will be the 10th time the Carolinas PGA Section and has hosted the 312-player tournament and third time it will be in the Palmetto State.
The 2018 PGA Professional Championship will be conducted June 17-20 at Bayonet Black Horse in Seaside, Calif.
The field is comprised of players who advanced from the 41 PGA Section Championships, along with past champions. The low 20 scorers at Belfair will earn a berth in the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.
The PGA of America championship is being moved to the spring in 2019 because of the new competition dates for the PGA Championship, which will move to May 16-19, 2019.
Keur, Todd earn POYs
With wins in a pair of significant amateur events in the Carolinas this past summer, R.J. Keur of North Charleston has been named the South Carolina Golf Association Player of the Year.
Walter Todd of Laurens is the SCGA Senior Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Keur captured the 103rd Carolinas Amateur Championship at Briar’s Creek by seven shots, never losing his lead on the field. He also won 45th South Carolina Amateur Match Play Championship and took a run at the 86th South Carolina Amateur Championship at Florence Country Club. He held a lead through two rounds with a blistering 133 but finished in a tie for second behind Florence native Gregg Jones with Ryan Marter of Columbia, who finished in a close second in the SCGA amateur rankings.
Prior to the summer, the University of Alabama-Birmingham junior was named to the First-Team All-Conference USA Team with 16 rounds at or under par.
Todd captured the 2017 Jones Cup Senior Invitational, and was on the winning team in the 24th SCGA Senior Four-Ball and the 23rd Mid-Amateur Four-Ball.
Todd and son Walt also won the 50th SCGA Dudley-Sullivan Father Son Championship, tied for second at the Chanticleer National Senior Invitational, and recorded top-fives in the 56th Carolinas Senior Championship and 59th SCGA Senior Championship. Todd also won all of his matches in the 2017 Palmetto Cup Amateur Team Championship at Columbia Country Club.
Keur and Todd will receive their awards at the SCGA’s 15th annual Golf Day Awards Dinner and Banquet on Jan. 13 at Columbia Country Club in Blythewood. The ceremony will include the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame induction of former PGA Tour player Dillard Pruitt.