Ashley Shaw, 15, earns exemption into LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup

Ashley Shaw isn’t one to shy away from the moment. That much was apparent during a delightful pre-tournament press conference at the Cognizant Founders Cup. While all eyes fall on World No. 1 Nelly Korda this week, who looks to become the first player in LPGA history to win a sixth consecutive start, Shaw is enjoying her own bit of history as she tees it up in her first LPGA event.

The 15-year-old carded a 1-over 73 on the Cognizant tournament course, Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, New Jersey, on Monday to lead a field of eight in The John Shippen Cognizant Cup. The two-stroke victory earned her an exemption into the LPGA event.

“It was a little bit chilly outside,” said Shaw, “but I could just feel it in the air, it was going to be a good day. No matter how it turned out I was going to have fun.”

Shaw, of Litchfield Park, Arizona, got started in LPGA-USGA Girls Golf at age 7 at The First Tee of Phoenix and has played in recent years on Steph Curry’s Underrated Golf.

“I won the inaugural year and last year I got top 3,” said Shaw, “so I am actually going to London in about two weeks to go represent the Underrated Tour as an ambassador for them.”

Through Underrated Golf, Shaw has also gotten to know Mariah Stackhouse, who was in the field on Monday and shot 75 to take a share of second place with Georgia Oboh. Because Shaw is an amateur and could not accept prize money, Stackhouse and Oboh each took home $7,250.

The John Shippen National Invitational is a series of competitions created to provide playing opportunities on the LPGA and PGA Tour for the nation’s top Black amateur and professional women and men golfers.

John Shippen Jr. was both the first American-born golf professional and the country’s first Black golf professional.

Ashley Shaw meets with the media ahead of the Cognizant Founders Cup. (Golfweek photo)

For a time, Stackhouse was the only Black player on the LPGA who had a full card. The 30-year-old Stanford grad is now competing on the Epson Tour, trying to claw her way back to the LPGA.

Shaw, who will have her mother on the bag this week, will be the only Black player in the field at Upper Montclair, but that won’t be a new to her.

“When I first started the game of golf my first few tournaments I played in, I didn’t quite feel like I belonged there,” said Shaw.

“It’s just kind of the way it goes when you’re the only one who looks like yourself out there. It was me, and I just had to persevere and I made it through. I think that’s something that I hope others can learn from me. Don’t let the situation you’re in kind of dictate what you’re going to continue to do.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek