Expectations were high for American Jewish golf star Morgan Pressel at the CN Canadian Open LPGA tournament, which wound up Aug. 28 at the Hillsdale Golf and Country Club in Mirabel, Que.
Last year, Pressel, 23, finished seventh at the Canadian Open and, in 2009, she tied for second.
This year, she didn’t even improve on her past finishes in Canada. Instead, she was fortunate just to make the cut of 78 players at this year’s tournament.
In rounds one and two, she shot 72 and 71 for a one under par total. One under is usually a safe bet to make the cut, but she was only one stroke away from joining 50 other golfers who failed to make the cut and a paycheque.
“I was fortunate to still be in the tournament after the second round. This was a very competitive tournament, and many of the other girls were on fire, and I wish I was, too. I was eight strokes off the lead from the beginning and had to do better for any chance to finish in the Top 10,” Pressel said in a phone interview following her rounds.
She finished tied for 18th and earned $26,024. She had her best performance in the last two rounds, making six birdies to finish with scores of 70 and 69.
Pressel’s final 18 holes were also noteworthy, because she played through a lot of rain and wind, which usually means higher scores.
“I am proud of how I handled the tough conditions and know that things could have been a lot worse following the first two rounds. I always feel ready and eager to win and know that I am playing well.”
Pressel, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., has already made golf history.
In her third year competing on the LPGA circuit, Pressel became one of only four players in LPGA history to win two tournaments by age 20, winning the Kapula Classic in 2008.
The achievement is especially noteworthy considering that retired LPGA hall of famers Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam didn’t start winning tournaments until age 23.
“There are never any guarantees in golf, but Morgan has more than a head start to becoming one of the great golfers in LPGA history,” said retired LPGA hall of famer Amy Alcott, who is also the only Jewish golfer to win the Canadian Open, in 1979, when it was called the Peter Jackson Classic.
Pressel’s destiny seemed set in 2001 when she was the youngest golfer ever to qualify to for the U.S. Women’s Open at age 12. In 2007, she made history again by becoming the youngest ever at 18 years, 10 months, to win a major women’s golf tournament by winning the Kraft Nabisco Championships.
“I am elated at what I’ve achieved so far, but I want to strive to do better. I learned very quickly that to do well at golf, I have to work hard on it,” she said.
Her career earnings total $4.25 million.
Along with her talent, Pressel’s other asset is having grandfather Herb Krickstein by her side, having mentored her since she took up the game at age eight.
For Krickstein, it was déja-vu to guide a young athlete. Twenty-eight years ago, his son, Aaron, made history b at age 16 y becoming the youngest champion to win a pro tennis title – in Tel Aviv in 1983.
The younger Krickstein was a world top player from 1983 to 1994, ranked as high as sixth in 1990.
However, Pressel’s young life hasn’t all been about fun and golf. Her late mother, Kathy, died of breast cancer at age 43 in 2003, and Pressel has dedicated herself to raising funds for breast cancer at her tournament in Boca Raton, and has netted more than $2 million the past four years through the Morgan Pressel Foundation.
Pressel’s fame as a rising star and the most prominent Jewish player on the LPGA circuit has made Jewish community leaders seek her out for fundraising events, as was the case when Maccabi Canada in Ottawa gave Pressel a reception when she competed at the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2008.
“I love to be the catalyst to draw young Jews and others to compete in golf, so I want to set an example by being proud of who I am and all I accomplish and hope to accomplish,” Pressel said.