Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth Wins PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship; Lisa Grimes Takes Senior Division Title

February 20, 2024


Craig Dolch

For final results, click here.

For photos of Connelly-Eiswerth and Grimes, click here.

By Craig Dolch

Special to the PGA of America

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2024) – An impressive win streak ended Tuesday while another continued at the PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club.

Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth of Fleming Island, Fla., shot a flawless 5-under 67 on the Wanamaker Course to rally from three shots back to win the Championship Division by two over Sandra Changkija of Kissimmee, Fla. Changkija was trying to win the Women’s Stroke Play for the fourth consecutive year, which included rallying from a three-shot deficit with three holes left to beat Connelly-Eiswerth last year.

This time, Connelly-Eiswerth was the one doing the rallying. She was the only player in the Championship Division to finish in red numbers (1-under 214).

“Three was a good number for you,” Connelly-Eiswerth told Changkija afterward.

“Now you’re on the clock,” Changkija responded.

In the Senior Division, Lisa Grimes of Gold Canyon, Ariz., won for the third year in a row. She started the final round with an eight-stroke lead, shot 2-under 70 and cruised to six-shot victory over Christy Longfield of Austin, Texas at 5-under 210.

Changkija couldn’t complete the four-peat, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. She shot a 4-under 68 despite a bogey on the par-5 13th hole. But Connelly-Eiswerth, who started the day three behind leader Kim Paez of Peoria, Ariz., and one ahead of Changkija, wouldn’t be denied after her 67.

“It was a little different because last year we were in the last group and it was pretty tight,” said Connelly-Eiswerth, a PGA Teaching Professional at San Jose Country Club in Jacksonville. “This year I had to work from behind. I made a lot of putts today.”

That included a speedy 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to clinch the title – the same hole where last year a two-shot swing led to Changkija’s victory. “I didn’t think it was going to get there, but it kept going,” said Connelly-Eiswerth, who didn’t know where she stood in the tournament at the time.

Changkija bemoaned the bogey she made on the par-5 13th hole, when her second shot scooted over the green and she failed to save par.

“It was just a stupid bogey on a downwind hole,” said Changkija, a PGA Teaching Professional at Champions Gate near Orlando. “It’s great to win three in a row, but I’m just really happy to be out here competing. I like my job, but I enjoy being out here competing and doing another job.”

The victory capped an impressive three-month stretch for Connelly-Eiswerth at PGA Golf Club. In December, she became the first woman to win a PGA Tournament Series event, and she put an exclamation mark Tuesday by winning the final PGA Winter Championship event.

“It’s nice to play the same golf courses and get a game plan,” Connelly-Eiswerth said. “You’re familiar with the courses and they’re always in great condition. It’s become a special place.”

Allie Knight (74-219) of Knoxville, Tenn., finished third and Paez (76-220) was fourth to earn a spot in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship June 20-23 at Sahalee Country Club in Washington. Connelly-Eiswerth, Changkija, Knight, Jennifer Borocz and Joanna Coe had already earned spots in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Grimes, who won the overall title in the Women’s Stroke Play in 2018 and 2020, went wire-to-wire in the Senior Division. The 63-year-old was the only player to shoot under par in each of the three rounds despite rainy, cold and windy conditions the first two days. Longfield (68) cut the lead to four shots before Grimes pulled away.

“The sun is out, finally, in the Sunshine State,” Grimes said with a smile. “Just played steady golf, hit a lot of fairways and scrambled really well. Christy put some heat on me until I made some birdies coming in.”

Grimes was already qualified for the Senior LPGA Championship May 22-25 at Copper Rock Country Club in Utah because she was in the top 40 on the Legend Tour’s money list. Longfield earned a spot with her runner-up finish.

The PGA Winter Championships, run by the PGA of America, are presented by GolfPass and On Location.

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