By Murray Evans
EDMOND, Okla. (Aug. 15, 2019) – The odds seemed stacked against Abigail Rigsby as she attempted to become the first woman to qualify for the Oklahoma Open, proving just a bit much for the Oklahoma Christian University player to overcome on Thursday.
Rigsby shot a 7-over-par 77 in an Open qualifier at Oak Tree Country Club’s West Course, missing the cut to make the main field by two shots and tying for 18th among the 33 competitors who teed it up on a warm, humid day.
Seventeen players – the top 12 and ties – advanced out of the qualifier, with the cut line ending up at 75, a number Rigsby could have shot if not for a couple of unfortunate breaks on the greens. Still, she left the course smiling, grateful for the opportunity.
“I’m glad I did this, whether I qualify or not,” Rigsby said. “Just being out here – it’s just nice to have somewhere to play and an organization that wants me to play. That’s huge.
“The more times I’m under the gun, the better. The more times you put yourself in this situation, the better player you’re going to be. Every time I’ve come out, I’ve learned some more about myself as a golfer. I’m just happy to be here.”
Rigsby, a rising senior at OC from Courtenay, British Columbia, planned to spend the summer living in Oklahoma and playing in women’s amateur tournaments. The Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association later ruled her ineligible by their bylaws as she is not an Oklahoma resident, leaving her scrambling to find tournaments. Her coach at OC, Greg Lynn, asked Mark Felder, the executive director of the Oklahoma Golf Association, if she could play in the men’s State Amateur. Felder said it wouldn’t be an issue, but the qualifiers had already been held and the field set. Lynn asked about the Oklahoma Open and Felder agreed to provide Rigsby the opportunity.
Rigsby, a long hitter, embraced the challenge of playing Oak Tree West at 6,752 yards, but had to do so while dealing with the aftermath of a back injury that sidelined her for more than a week, limiting her preparation time. She was only able to begin swinging clubs again on Sunday.
Admittedly nervous on the first tee, Rigsby settled down but her putter didn’t want to cooperate, except on a couple of occasions. She saved par with a 40-foot putt on No. 5, but was 3-over at the turn. She was 4-over at No. 13 and hit her approach shot to 12 feet, but ended up three-putting for bogey, a likely two-shot swing that cost her.
Her only birdie came at the par-5 No. 16, when she drained a 30-foot putt from the back of the green. She missed an eight-foot birdie putt on No. 17 and a bogey at No. 18 ended all hope of qualifying.
“I could feel my legs shaking the first three holes,” she said. “We got to four and I calmed down and after that I tried to just hit good shots. This is a total different feeling, being in a men’s tournament. I don’t know how anyone else is going to react to it. It’s not like I felt any pressure out there; I just tried to hit good shots all day.”
Carson Francis of Edmond, an incoming senior at the University of Central Oklahoma, won the qualifier by shooting an even-par 70, with former Oklahoma City University NAIA All-American Chris Laughlin and Grant VanHoose of Edmond tied for second at 1-over.
Oklahoma Golf Association
Oklahoma Open Amateur Qualifying
August 15, 2019
Oak Tree Country Club (West Course)
Carson Francis, Edmond – 70
Christopher Laughlin, Edmond – 71
Grant VanHoose, Edmond – 71
Jon Cline, Enid – 72
Collin Herlihy, Edmond – 72
Will Dennis, Fort Worth – 73
Wyatt Fuzzell, Edmond – 73
Jesse Pennington, Oklahoma City – 73
Austin Dolan, Arcadia – 74
Joel Driver, Oklahoma City – 74
Brandon Hoff, Austin – 74
Jory Blaney, Edmond – 75
Blake Blaser, Edmond – 75
Bren Dunlap, Claremore – 75
Shane Herlihy, Edmond – 75
Owen Lindsey, Edmond- 75
Navid Majidizadeh, Tulsa – 75
Did not qualify
Elliott Horton, Oklahoma City- 77
Abigail Rigsby, Courtenay, Canada – 77
Walker Fuzzell, Edmond – 78
Christian McAllister, Oklahoma City – 79
Matthew LaGere , Chandler – 80
Grant Murphey, Oklahoma City – 80
Patrick Vahabzadegan, Edmond – 80
Dylan Allen, Oklahoma City – 81
Zach Barton, Stillwater – 82
Chance Koon, Midwest City – 82
Ross Taylor, Edmond – 83
Hunter Reed, Chandler – 85
Carson Parker, Oklahoma City – 86
Brett Pribble, Edmond – 86
Alexander Diaz, Edmond – 88
Bryan Armstrong, Oklahoma City – NC