The Paris Golf & Country Club hosted a brand new and exciting tournament with the support of the community and help from a golfing legend.
The four-day-long, first-ever Kathy Whitworth Paris Tournament came to a close Friday, with Alazne Urizar Zapata of Venezuela lifting the trophy and earning the top prize of a $7,500 check by shooting a four-day total score of 277. She finished (-3) overall, six strokes ahead of Riley Rennell and Hannah Arnold, who tied for second place with a total score of 283 (+3).
Ann Parmerter and Sarah Brown earned a tie for fourth place with a score of 285 (+5), while Gabby Lemieux shot a four-day total of 287 (+7). Jessica Dreesbeimdieke got seventh place with a final score of 288 (+8), while Brenna Lervick ended up in eighth place with a score of 289 (+9). Joo Youn Seo and Cecily Overbey rounded out the top 10, both tying for ninth place, with each posting a score of 290 (+10).
Zapata was able to gain separation with scores of 67 (-5) on the second day of the tournament, and impressively with a 65 (-7) on the final day of the competition. Having several quality competitors putting pressure on her to perform throughout was definitely a factor in bringing the best out of her.
“I was just thinking about playing my game because it was still anyone’s game,” Zapata said. “I was still confident, just stuck to my routine and kept calm. I know I was playing good today, but I know these girls are good and you never know what can happen until the end. I just did the best to think straight and be focused as much as possible.”
Having to play under pressure was not a familiar feeling for Zapata, but she believes the experience she gained from it in this tournament will help her game in many ways for the future.
“Playing in this tournament I feel like will help me with my nerves in future tournaments,” Zapata said. “Being on the last tee time and in contention was a new experience for me. That’s not a situation I’ve been in a lot of times, so that was a big takeaway for me — my attitude in this situation. With people following closely behind you, it can get your nerves up a little bit. I really loved the attitude I had. Even if I had a bad shot, I would try to recover and make the shot for par and just keep moving forward.”
As for the tournament’s biggest driving force, LPGA golfing legend Kathy Whitworth was honored to help. However, the relationships she forged, the girls she saw play and the nostalgia behind it all made the experience highly rewarding.
“It’s always flattering and nice when someone wants to put your name on something,” Whitworth said. “Cathy (Harbin) has been great at showing me around and introducing me to everyone, and these girls were just so thrilled to be a part of this tournament, which was my favorite part about it all.
“It brought back great memories for me — it made me remember my first check and tournament win — and here these girls got a really good chance to hone their game. I talked to the players, and they feel that it helped them be better prepared for their futures and potential appearances in the LPGA. They all played well under competition, and it was good competition. Of course, winning is the ultimate goal, but there’s always next week and always another tournament. These girls will benefit from this, and I think this tournament will get even bigger and better.”
In return, Whitworth’s presence meant a great deal to the aspiring female golfers in the field.
“It was truly a pleasure meeting her,” Zapata said. “She has won more tournaments than anyone in both the LPGA and PGA tours. I think she was my lucky charm. I met her during the practice round, talked to her for a little bit and I think it was great having her here. She not only inspires me, but all of the other players. Just having her presence here and her giving that attention to us as players was big.”
To say the tournament was both successful and exciting would be an understatement. Despite it being brand new and surrounded with unknowns, the way everything played out could not have been better for everyone involved.
“We found a lot of excitement around this,” Paris Golf & Country Club general manager Cathy Harbin said. “Members and community members were not exactly sure what to expect, but once they got here, everyone saw the caliber of players these girls were. Not only are they great players, but they’re just so nice, warm and welcoming. Our members are also nice, warm and welcoming, so it was a really fantastic combination of everyone coming together to celebrate and watch some great golf being played here.”