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15-year-old amateur playing in her first LPGA event hopes to inspire other Black golfers

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Ashley Shaw hits a shot during practice for the LPGA Tour's Cognizant Founders Cup. (LPGA Tour photo)

A 15-year-old amateur earned a spot in her first LPGA Tour event, and she’s grateful for the challenge. Ashley Shaw, from Litchfield, Ariz., won the John Shippen Cognizant Cup to earn a spot in the field for this week’s Cognizant Founders Cup.

In joining forces with the Shippen—which has long had a high-profile event for men— Cognizant is working to improve golf’s diversity. The tournament is open to Black female golfers, with the winner earning a spot in the Cognizant Founders Cup. Shaw, the only amateur in the field, shot a one-over 73 at Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey to earn her spot.

Shaw played her first tournament less than a decade ago. And now, she’s onsite at an LPGA Tour event, getting ready to compete against the best players in the world. When she looks back on her start in golf, she can already appreciate how far she’s come.

“I think for me, when I first started the game of golf my first few tournaments I played in, I didn't quite feel like I belonged there. It's just kind of the way it goes when you're the only one who looks like yourself out there,” Shaw said.

She knows she’s not the only one who has felt that way on a golf course. By playing in an LPGA event, Shaw aims to inspire those who are facing the same situation in their own lives.

“I just had to persevere, and I made it through,” Shaw said. “I think that's something that I hope others can learn from me: Don't let the situation you're in dictate what you're going to continue to do. If it's rough right now, it's okay. On the other side, it's definitely going to be better.”

Shaw is proof of what she says. For as bad as it was to feel like she didn’t belong, she certainly belongs now. At Upper Montclair, she played a few holes of her practice round with Lydia Ko. She has gone from feeling like she was on the outside to being inside the ropes on the LPGA Tour, alongside the best players in the world, with her mom on the bag. She’s already here, and she’s only 15 years old.