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PGA Professional Champ

A female teaching pro is contending at the PGA Professional Champ. Here's why she can't qualify for the PGA Championship


Darren Carroll/PGA of America

There's big-time golf happening this week in Texas, and we're not talking about the CJ Cup Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch.

About 20 minutes down the road in Frisco, a major championship is taking place—the club pro's major, AKA the PGA Professional Championship. What makes this one so important to the teaching pros of the golf world is that it can be their ticket to another major, the PGA Championship at Valhalla. The top 20 finishers at Fields Ranch earn an exemption into the second men's major of the season, which is set to take place next month in Louisville.

Two rounds have already been played and the third is underway at Fields Ranch, which will host the 2027 PGA Championship. Take a quick look at the leaderboard and you'll notice Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth near the top. She's a teaching pro from Fleming Island, Fla.

Connelly-Eiswerth isn't just in the top 20 as of right now, she's tied for second place at four under, a score only one player, Wyatt Worthington II, is beating at eight under. The 36-year-old, who teaches at San Jose Country Club in Jacksonville, was one of five women competing, and she was the only one to make the 36-hole cut.

Of course, it's still early, but it's at the point where you have to start thinking ... is Connelly-Eiswerth about to punch her ticket into a men's major? Unfortunately, that's not possible.

Per a PGA of America spokesperson, the top 20 finishers who play from the back tees earn a spot in the 2024 PGA Championship. Connelly-Eiswerth has been playing from a different set of tees this week, making her ineligible to qualify.

That doesn't make what Connelly-Eiswerth is doing any less impressive. In an original field of 312 players (!), she's currently tied for second, six shots clear of Golf Twitter favorite Michael Block, who is already exempt into this year's PGA Championship based off his high finish at Oak Hill last season. And it doesn't make her ineligible for the prize money. This is her third straight appearance in this event, and in each of the last two she's cashed a check (T-50 in 2022, T-34 in 2023).

Last year, Connelly-Eiswerth became the first woman to win a PGA Tournament Series event, shooting 65-67 at PGA Golf Club. That had not happened in the previous 46 years the event was played. She can flat out ball, as evidenced by a number of other career playing highlights that include a 2023 Women's PGA Professional Player of the Year title and a PGA Women's Stroke Play win earlier this year. This June, Connelly-Eiswerth will tee it up in her seventh women's major championship when she competes in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee in Washington.