BJ's Charity Championship reunites friends McGann, Whaley for second year
Michelle McGann and Suzy Whaley crossed paths in the early 1990’s when both were competitive on the LPGA Tour, and they have stayed connected ever since, which is why they are looking forward to teaming up for the second consecutive year in next month’s BJ’s Charity Championship presented by P&G in Sandwich, Mass. on Friday, September 6.
In last year’s event, McGann and Whaley posted a team score of 65 and finished tied for 5th, a modest result but they delivered it with a contagious enthusiasm. Following their final putt on 18, Whaley orchestrated a social media photo op that included McGann, their playing partners Nancy Scranton and Elaine Crosby, their caddies and their junior ambassadors all striking multiple poses for the ultimate “boomerang.”
“Suzy is a good friend,” says McGann, 49, who won the 1987 U.S. Girls Junior at age 17 and two years later joined the LPGA Tour. “Our games work well together, and I’m excited to team up again.”
One of the most beloved players for over 20 years on the LPGA Tour, McGann is well known for wearing distinctive hats and battling Type I diabetes since being diagnosed at age 13. A remarkable competitor, she won seven titles in three consecutive seasons, from 1995-1997, two of those wins coming in sudden death playoffs over Laura Davies and Karrie Webb. McGann also appeared in the 1996 Solheim Cup, winning her singles match over Davies to help the Americans to 17-11 victory.
“I love playing with Michelle because she is so welcoming and approachable to all who love the game,” says Whaley, 51, who became the first female president of the PGA of America in November 2018. “Her effervescent spirit makes me play better.”
A dual member of the PGA of America and LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Division, Whaley was an LPGA Tour member in 1990 and 1993. In 2002, Whaley became the first PGA of America woman professional to win the Connecticut PGA Championship, earning a spot in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open and making her the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to qualify for a PGA Tour event. A three-time Connecticut Women’s Open Champion, Whaley also has numerous PGA and LPGA section championships to her credit.
Most recently, Whaley has appeared in the USGA Senior Women's Open and the LPGA Senior Women’s Championship. Like McGann, she is active on The Legends Tour, official senior tour of the LPGA, and relishes the opportunity to continue to compete with her peers.
“Playing on the Legends Tour gives all of us a chance to compete at a high level in the game we love,” says Whaley. “Golf is timeless and to have an opportunity to compete against some of the best players in the world is an honor.”
The BJ’s Charity Championship features 14 teams made up of two Legends each who compete in nine holes of four-ball (better ball of partners) on the front side, followed by nine holes of a scramble format on the back. Now in its third year at The Ridge Club, this unique team event is a favorite stop for many veteran stars of the LPGA Tour, including World Golf Hall of Famers Juli Inkster, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, Jan Stephenson, Hollis Stacy, Donna Caponi and Sandra Haynie.
Regardless of the outcome, McGann and Whaley will make it a fun round for everyone. But don’t underestimate their competitive spirit.
“I promised Michelle I would practice my putting,” says Whaley. “I can’t wait for this year’s event.”
Gates open at 9:00 a.m. with tee times starting at 10:00 a.m. Admission is free. Park for free at the Holly Ridge Golf Course next door and hop the complimentary shuttle to the tournament entrance.