By Logan Lowery
Events like the U.S. Women’s Open will soon be just another stop on Ally McDonald’s tour schedule.
But this week the Fulton native and Mississippi State junior will get her first taste of LPGA action at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. McDonald will tee off today at 12:03 p.m. CT and is paired with professionals Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Canada and Ayaka Watanabe of Japan.
“If you go into a tournament and don’t think you can win it, then there’s no point in playing,” McDonald said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if I go out and play to the best of my ability that I might have a shot. It’s a different stage and my first LPGA event, and it’ll have the pressure of the U.S. Open, but I’m playing as an amateur and have nothing to lose.”
Pinehurst No. 2 is a course that McDonald has had success at before having won the North & South Women’s Amateur there in 2013.
“Ally can handle any level of competition,” said MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm. “She’s that solid of an athlete and competitor. Her mental game is exceptional and her technical game is ready.”
McDonald has three collegiate wins under her belt and led the Bulldogs to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Championships. The first-team All-American tied for fourth at the NCAA Championship, helping MSU finish sixth at the event.
McDonald posted the lowest single-season stroke average in program history of 71.48 and also the most birdies at 114.
“When I committed here to Mississippi State, my focus was to help build this program and be a part of one that could soon be in contention for a national championship,” McDonald said. “That was my goal, and it’s amazing to see everything coming together and the team going in the right direction. I was very blessed to play in the Curtis Cup and qualify for the U.S. Open, but that wasn’t my goal when I came here.”
Last weekend, McDonald represented her country in the Curtis Cup in St. Louis. She earned three points to help the Americans defeat Great Britain and Ireland, 13-7.
McDonald feels that she is performing at a high level and is hoping to harness her abilities against the best women golfers in the world.
“I’ve worked really hard to fine tune everything,” McDonald said.
“At regionals and nationals, I played pretty well. But I’ve really sort of got into a groove, and at Curtis Cup I hit it as well as I have in a long time. I’m going to try to stay confident and in this groove that I’m in and take it into the (U.S.) Open and hopefully excel there as well.”