|Izzy Beisiegel, seen taking a tee shot in a pro-am at Winnipeg's Pine Ridge Golf Club on Wednesday, became the first female to actually gain status on a professional men’s golf tour through qualifying school. (QMI Agency/Marcel Cretain)
WINNIPEG - Izzy Beisiegel truly believes this is only the beginning.
The 32-year-old Quebecer takes enormous pride in becoming the first female to actually gain status on a professional men’s golf tour through qualifying school, but it’s just another step in the process.
The ultimate goal is to become a member on both the PGA and LPGA Tours.
For now, she’s focused on pushing herself to be a better player and enjoying the challenge of competing against the men.
“It’s such a gift and it was a miracle when I got to qualify,” said Beisiegel, who is in the field of 156 that will tee up in the 2011 Canadian Tour Players Cup hosted by Jonathan Toews at Pine Ridge Golf Club. “It’s so fun to be out here. It’s sharpened my focus. I have to do my best on each shot.
“I’m humbled and there’s a lot of girls with a lot better pedigrees than I have. I’m probably the first one (to succeed) because I’ve tried for seven years and failed for seven years.”
Beisiegel almost didn’t take the leap of faith this May.
“I was discouraged, I had shot a 91 the week before at a men’s U.S. Open qualifier but I prayed to God for strength,” she explained. “You have to prepare your heart for public failure. I decided I was going to try and it was going to be OK.”
After a slow start (75-78), Beisiegel shot 68 in the third round of spring qualifying school to put her in contention and a final round of 75 left her in a tie for ninth and gave her non-exempt status.
“The guys have been awesome, they’ve been great,” said Beisiegel, when asked about the reception from the men on tour.
Beisiegel has gained plenty of perspective over the years, as she’s battled serious health issues (she was diagnosed with a thyroid condition called Graves’ disease in 2005) and actually walked away from golf for almost a year.
“I actually realized that success wasn’t going to be fulfilling to me and I didn’t know if I wanted to continue on that road,” said Beisiegel, whose husband Daniel is her caddie. “I knew I’m supposed to be super happy doing this. I quit for a while (eight months) but then realized this is a gift and I started to pursue it again.”
Beisiegel has been healthy since 2008 and is serving as an inspiration to others.
“No one likes to go through hard things but there is suffering in this world,” she said. “A couple weeks ago, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with (Graves’ disease) and I remember getting counselled by (Olympic sprinter) Gail Devers and getting an e-mail from (champion golfer) Ben Crenshaw. They both went through Graves’ disease and I remember how it was encouraging to me to know they’re OK and living a great life now. It’s neat to be able to pass that along. Knowing someone has gone through it before you really does help.”
Beisiegel will play a few more Canadian Tour events, several others on the Futures Tour and then gear up for LPGA Q-school.
“I also sent in my PGA Tour Q-school application,” said Beisiegel. “If you’re a member of the Canadian Tour, you don’t have to go through the pre-qualifier. So I figured I had to try that. We’ll just see what happens.”
For those hoping to catch a glimpse of Beisiegel, she’ll be teeing off the 10th hole at 2:20 p.m. on Thursday and be in a group with Tyler Mancini of Pine Ridge and Franny Suits of Sarasota, Fla.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
Hometown: Montreal (now resides in Broken Arrow, Okla.)
— Played her college golf at University of Oklahoma
— Full-time member of LPGA Tour in 2004 and 2005
— Became first woman to compete in PGA Tour Qualifying School in 2004
— Took medalist honours at final stage of 2003 LPGA Tour Qualifying School
— Received non-exempt status after tying for ninth at Canadian Tour spring qualifying school, becoming the first woman to earn a card on a men’s professional golf tour