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15-Year Old Ashley Shaw Makes LPGA Tour Debut

15-Year Old Ashley Shaw Makes LPGA Tour Debut

Featured image: Ashley Shaw takes a swing during her practice round at the Cognizant Founders Cup. (Courtesy of LPGA Tour)

Tiger Woods made his PGA TOUR debut at age 20. Scottie Scheffler was 17 years old, and Nelly Korda was 19 when she first played in an LPGA Tour event.

Ashley Shaw topped them all.

Shaw, a 15-year old amateur golfer from Litchfield Park, made her LPGA Tour debut last week in the Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J. Shaw played rounds on Thursday and Friday, before missing the cut.

Shaw earned an exemption into the Cognizant Founders Cup by winning The John Shippen Cognizant Cup last Monday. As the eight-woman field’s lone amateur, Shaw carded one-over 73 and won by a two-stroke margin. The John Shippen National Invitational is a series of events, which aim to create opportunities and exposure in golf for Black men and women, as well as a pathway to the PGA and LPGA Tours for the nation’s top Black amateur and professional golfers.

“Without events like the John Shippen, you wouldn’t see that diversity in the game that is needed,” Shaw said. “Diversity is really important in the game of golf. It’s important everywhere, but in the game of golf, you want to be able to have a game where not everyone on the course looks the same. Events like the John Shippen provide that exposure to the game for diverse people.”

Shaw’s victory at The Shippen upped her confidence. Her goal at the Cognizant Founders Cup was not necessarily to shoot the best score; she wanted to soak in the moment and prove to herself that she belongs on the big stage.

“I think the thing I most hope is that I prove to myself that I’m here for a reason and I can hang with the best of the best,” Shaw said last week before the Cognizant Founders Cup. “I want to go out there and prove to myself- not really anyone else, just myself- I am here, I belong here and I can play.”

Although Shaw missed the cut, she was more focused on the experience of playing in her first LPGA Tour event. She played part of her practice round with Lydia Ko and fielded congratulations from fellow players all throughout the week. 

While Korda chased history and Rose Zhang carded a winning effort at Upper Montclair, Shaw walked the course with her mother, Sylvia, on the bag just before Mother’s Day weekend.

While many people heard Shaw’s name for the first time last week, she has been a staple of the junior field in Arizona for several years. In 2022, she won the inaugural Curry Cup, earning an exemption into the ANNIKA Invitational; she also won her first AZ GOLF Kachina at the Women’s Match Play. 

After wrapping up in New Jersey, Shaw is looking forward to an upcoming trip to London for the Underrated Tour, for whom she is one of six ambassadors, followed by a few AJGA events. Although she is returning to her more ‘normal’ life for the time being, last week at Upper Montclair gave her a taste of what she hopes to do for a lifetime.

“My goals for the next few years, I definitely want to play D1 college golf and I want to be out here playing with the pros every week. I’m here this week, why can’t I be out here every week? That was my goal,” Shaw said.

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