Colonial, Tex | As the sun sets at the Old American Golf Club on Monday night, Kristen Gilman, Guerlain Core and Julian Alvarez are left in limbo. The trio were tied at the top of the leaderboard after the equal cards 71s in their bid on Monday to qualify for the Ascendant LPGA benefit America’s Volunteers. With no daylight, the 3-vs-2 game was postponed to Tuesday morning.
“I feel like any time you have a break, it makes you think more, so I was definitely nervous last night and getting to the day,” Gilman said. “But I tried as hard as I could not to think about it. I knew if I got out there and played my own game, then I should be fine.”
Gilman, Corr, and Alvarez begin the sudden death playoff game at 7:20 a.m., exactly as the sun rises in The Colony, Texas. Gilman and Core tied the first hole while Alvarez recklessly finished off the playoff quickly. The eligible pair seem to have a slight advantage over their rival as they are both from the Lone Star State. Gilman hails from Austin while Core was from Houston.
“I definitely think there is a small advantage, but at the same time you still have to go forward and make good shots,” said Core, who has played for Old American only once before.
A two-time American Amateur Champion, Gilman has a lot of good memories of The Old American which have helped her boost her self-confidence. “I definitely enjoy playing this golf course,” she said. “I wanted to play in a tournament in my state and have had success on this golf course for most of the years I have played here. I feel like I know this course well, so it fits my eyes well.”
The Ascendant LPGA has a long history of winning in Texas as the previous three have all been Texans: Jin Young Koo who lives nearby in Frisco, Angela Stanford of Fort Worth and Cheyenne Knight of Alido. Knight took the trophy as a rookie in 2019, setting a tournament record with her performance of -18.
Gilman, a former teammate of Knight at the University of Alabama, will compete for the fifth time, and her best championship result will be at the 2020 edition of the event. She finished in a tie for eighth, her best result that season.
“I think the golf course feels like a golf course in Texas, so I think that’s why the Texans are so successful here,” Gilman said. “I can use that as inspiration, knowing the Texans win this championship.”
Kaur hopes to ride the wave of success in Texas in her first LPGA event as a professional. As an amateur, she has played in the 2021 US Women’s Open presented by ProMedica and this year’s Chevron Championship, so she is happy to be home on her professional start.
“I’m really excited,” Kaur said. “My family is coming in today. Dallas is very close to home so I hope more people can come out and watch me too.”
Playing in Texas, and on a course you know all too well, is the main reason Gilman made the four-hour trip to the Old American Golf Club for Monday’s game after competing in the four-hour distance at Murphy USA EL Dorado Shoot Out in Arkansas. Sunday. Gilman tied for third at -7 in El Dorado, her best result and a top 10 finish on the Epson Tour this year.
“I’m definitely looking forward to using that momentum this week,” Gilman said. “I think it was the first time I’ve competed since this tournament in 2020. It’s been a long time, so it’s good to get those nerves back and play under pressure.”
While Gilman is looking to win it all, Core doesn’t have high expectations. After all, this will likely be the first of many tournaments that will take place for the 22-year-old, so she wants to have fun and enjoy the experience.
“Just because it’s the first event, I just try not to put too much pressure on myself, but I definitely want to make a stop and get myself into the competition because I know my game is there,” Kaur said.
Regardless of their goals for the week, Gilman and Core are off to a great start in their respective states. And if history tells us anything, they both have as good a chance as anyone else to lift the trophy on Sunday.