Professional debut

Ex-Badger gets exempt status

Dennis Grall photo Brooke Ferrell gets in a workout at the Sweetgrass Golf Club Wednesday as part of media day. She will make her Symetra Tour professional debut when the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass returns June 23-25.

By Dennis Grall

For the Daily Press

HARRIS — Brooke Ferrell is embarking on a new life, just weeks after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.

The marketing degree grad has started her dream of being a professional golfer and will make her Symetra Tour pro debut at Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris June 23-25. She made the cut in last year’s tournament as an amateur, only the second exempt status player to achieve that feat in the six previous Sweetgrass tournaments.

“I am very grateful (to Sweetgrass officials). I would not have gotten into this tournament on my own. Getting the exempt status is a big break here, and hopefully I can make some money here,” Ferrell said at Wednesday’s tourney media day.

She has low-priority status in her rookie season because her qualifying school performance on the Road to the LPGA Tour was sub-standard. Unless and until she can start cashing in at tournaments and improve her status, prospects of seeing much Symetra time may not occur until late in the season.

Getting a repeat invitation to play here “is a huge advantage after playing here last year as an amateur,” Ferrell said. Now she has a much better feel for the course and a much better idea about the competitive aspects of tournament play.

Ferrell will actually make her professional debut June 10-12 in the Ohio Open, then comes to Sweetgrass June 19 to begin preparations for her official Symetra debut. She will also participate in a U.S. Open qualifier this week.

“Everybody has to start somewhere,” Ferrell said, resigned with her current status but gung-ho on moving forward and joining her sister Allyssa on the Symetra Tour.

Her older sister, who played here last year and is scheduled to compete here again next month, has conditional status on the LPGA Tour that could impact her participation at Sweetgrass.

“We are Team Ferrell,” said Brooke, indicating the two young ladies talk frequently about golf and life on the tour.

“We are really close. It is an incredible advantage” to learn the ins and the outs of professional golf from her sister.

“She has told me there is more pressure as a professional golfer,” Brooke Ferrell said. “If you don’t make the cut, you don’t get paid.”

Ferrell is from Edgerton, Wis., which means her parents and friends have just a four-hour drive to watch the sisters play in the Island Resort Championship.

Ferrell had a banner career with the Badgers. She was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016 and this season set the best season scoring average in school history (72.25) and has the career-best scoring average (74.0). “I was a full stroke better than last year,” she said.

Ferrell won the Cardinal Cup at Louisville, Ky. this season.

She was UW’s top finisher at three tournaments and had three top-ten finishes this season. She set the UW freshman scoring record with 75.34 strokes and was fourth at the Big Ten tournament.

At Edgerton High School, Ferrell was runner-up in the Division 2 state tournament in 2012 and finished in the top five all four years, earning all-state honors three times. In 2010 she set the Riverside Country Club course record with a 64 en route to winning the Rock County championship.

Her coach is Dennis Tiziani, a member of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame, a former UW golf coach and father-in-law of PGA standout Steve Stricker. She sees Tiziani two-three times per week for practice purposes.

Ferrell missed the NCAA regional tourney in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month with a wrist injury. It did not affect her play Wednesday, when she had four birdies at Sweetgrass.