|First-time Participant Ashley Grier Captures Women's Stroke Play Championship|
|Grier, PGA assistant professional at Beaver Creek Country Club in Hagerstown, Md., shot a three-round total 212 to win the 14th Women's Stroke Play Championship by six strokes. Karen Paolozzi finished second.|
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Ashley Grier of Hagerstown, Md., maintained a comfortable lead for most of the final round (Jan. 30) to win the 14th PGA Women's Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
An assistant professional at Beaver Creek Country Club, Grier began and ended the day with a six-stroke advantage, matching par 72 on the Ryder Course to beat Karen Paolozzi of Twinsburg, Ohio, the first round leader, 212 to 218. Paolozzi also shot a final-round 72.
"I started a little shaky at the beginning, a three-putt bogey on the first hole and Karen birdied the second so my lead was down to four," Grier said. "There was still a lot of golf left and I just settled down and played. She made a couple of mistakes, and here we are."
Grier had a three-putt par at the long fourth hole, then birdied the fifth. Paolozzi bogeyed the fifth and eighth, Grier bogeyed the ninth. They both made the turn at 37 and each shot 35 on the inward nine.
It was the first appearance in the tournament for both Grier and Paolozzi, while Shannon Hanley of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Kammy Maxfeldt of Westport, Conn., who tied for third at 223, were among a small handful of women who have played every year since the tournament began in 2000.
"She [Grier] is a great player, very steady," Paolozzi said. "I came here to win but I need to get a little sharper on my short game. But I will be back next year and try again."
Grier played two years at Jacksonville University and two at the University of Central Florida before graduating in 2006. She was all-Conference USA and UCF Scholar Athlete of the Year as a senior. Paolozzi, PGA assistant professional at Chagrin Valley Country Club in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, won the Big 10 title and earned All-America honors at Indiana University in 2003.
Grier earned $1,500 from the $5,750 purse. Paolozzi, second among 18 starters, received $1,150.
Women's Stroke Play Championship