Tracy Kerdyk, of Coral Gables, Fla., won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the age of 21 with a 4-and-3 victory over Pearl Sinn, of Bellflower, Calif., at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill. Kerdyk went on to play on the LPGA Tour for 10 years (1989 to 1998), claiming one victory. She currently is a real-estate agent with Kerdyk Real Estate in Coral Gables.
What did winning the WAPL mean to you?
The WAPL was my first USGA win. Winning any USGA event is a big deal, and having that become my first one was very memorable. Another reason why it was memorable was that the WAPL was the first national event I ever played when I was 13, and I represented my golf course.
What is your most vivid memory from that championship week?
I have a few. One, I took a risk on my caddie, who was somebody I had met in Miami who lived in Michigan and drove over to Illinois to caddie for me. I didn’t know her that well. It was the first time she had ever caddied, and I won. The second memorable moment was that during my final match, I chipped in a 60-footer for par from off the front of the 14th green – a bump and run, a real bender – and it went into the hole. Pearl missed her putt, which allowed me to go 3 up. I went on to win the next two holes and then I won the match. That was definitely a turning point. My mom was in the gallery and I remember her cheering and jumping up and down. It was quite a shot.
I understand you also had a memorable moment in your sectional qualifier.
One big memory took place at the WAPL qualifier at Melreese Golf Course in Miami before I actually got to the championship. My dad came out on the 15th hole to watch me play and I duck-hooked my ball and it hit my dad in the back and bounced back into the fairway. I qualified for the WAPL by one shot. I could have been in the middle of those melaleuca trees and never gotten out.
Do you remember your emotions when you birdied the 15th hole to close out the championship match?
I was elated. I won the WAPL and it was near Chicago. I’m from Miami, so they were different greens and it was on a different kind of course. It was quite a memory, altogether, winning and finally being able to say I was a USGA champion.
Was it the championship match that stood out for you?
I would say between that match and the semifinals, which were on the same day, a Sunday. One match was in the morning and one was in the afternoon. I kind of remember there was a par 3 – maybe the 12th hole – and in the morning match, I almost knocked it in the hole, but I birdied it, and in the afternoon, I birdied it again. I think during the entire championship, that was my hole.
You defeated Sinn at the 1987 WAPL, but Pearl went on to win the next two WAPL titles. Were you paying attention to what she was doing even after you had moved on?
Yes, because she was on the 1988 [USA] Curtis Cup Team with me and we played together. That’s what’s so interesting about USGA events. One minute, you’re playing against somebody and the next minute, you’re on a team with them. I used to watch a lot of the WAPL Championships to see how people were playing and what was going on.
Even after playing and winning on the LPGA Tour, when you look back at your win at the WAPL, is it still one of the highlights?
Absolutely. From the very beginning, in my first year, I remember I met Tom Meeks, who was the head Rules official at the time, and to this day, I’m still friends with him. I also got to know the women on the [WAPL] Committee. It was just a special place. I always wanted to qualify for the WAPL every year that I could. When I won it, it carried me right on to the LPGA Tour.
In your golf career, you won the 1983 PGA Junior Championship, 11 college tournaments while at the University of Miami, earned a spot on the 1988 USA Curtis Cup Team, ww=ere named the 1988 NCAA Collegiate Player of the Year and you joined the LPGA Tour in 1989, where you played for 10 years, winning one tournament. Where does winning the 1987 WAPL fall in your career accomplishments?
It came along at a very interesting time. In 1987, I believe the WAPL was held in June. I went on to win the Canadian Women’s Amateur [that summer] and I was runner-up that year at the U.S. Women’s Amateur [to Kay Cockerill at Rhode Island C.C.]. It really kind of jump-started that part of my amateur career and that fall, I went on to win five or six collegiate events. That was followed by winning honors as college player of the year and getting on the Curtis Cup Team. What a neat feeling to represent the United States. [Winning the WAPL] really was the beginning of a great year.
How do you feel about the WAPL being retired after this year?
It was the first USGA championship I played in at age 13. I grew up on a public course. I didn’t have the privilege of being able to play on a private course. This was our championship. I remember we sent a team and I was a part of the team [on which Kerdyk’s Miami team won the 11th WAPL Team Championship]. Our team rooted for each other. With the USGA, there’s a reason for everything, but I’m sad to see the WAPL go. I think it played a major role in my life, for sure.
Lisa Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.