UCF women’s golfer Ashley Holder has played her fair share of notable events. But after her final putt dropped into the 18th cup at the Symetra Tour’s IOA Golf Classic in Longwood Sunday afternoon, the event stood above the rest.
“[This tournament] definitely ranks the highest up there, for sure,” Holder said. “I’ve played in the best college tournaments I think so far, and this definitely is above that.”
The junior, who has led UCF in scoring through its first three tournaments of the season, finished 4-under par and tied for 20th in her first professional event. She competed as an exempt amateur in the 120-player field, which negates her from a portion of the $100,000 purse but keeps her collegiate golf days intact.
“She held her own against a bunch of great professional golfers,” UCF head coach Emily Marron said. “I think the sky’s the limit for Ashley. I think she can make it [to the LPGA], and we’re proud to have her at UCF.”
A few missed putts, two bogeys and a hiccup into the water that resulted in a double bogey were just slight blemishes on Holder’s first-round score card after two back-nine birdies. She finished the round 2-over par and in potential danger of missing the 74-player cut.
“I was really nervous the first round just because I’ve never played in a professional event,” Holder said.
The nerves subsided as Holder proceeded to turn on the jets during the final two rounds, shooting back-to-back 68s.
Holder handled her game by carding five birdies in the second round. Two bogeys sprinkled into the mix put her at 3 under for the round and 1 under for the tournament, but it was enough to make the cut.
Her final-round score of 3-under par was propelled by four birdies, including a 10-foot putt on the par-3 18.
“I assumed that if I played really, really well, like the way I’ve been playing, I could get up there in the top 30,” Holder said. “I learned a lot about what I need to work on more to be as good as they are and to make it out here [professionally].”
Holder is currently the No. 62 women’s amateur golfer in the world, according to World Amateur Golf Ranking.
“We were really proud of Ashley — how she carried herself this week,” Marron said. “I knew she’d do pretty well with her game, and I was just most proud of how she kept herself composed.”
About a month removed from collegiate competition, Holder and the UCF women’s golf team will swing back into action Oct. 23 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.