The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) recently announced that U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion, Jensen Castle, and 17-year-old Amari Avery, winner of The John Shippen Shootout, have earned exemptions into the 2021 Cognizant Founders Cup (www.thefounderslpga.com), taking place October 6-10 at historic Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell.
The Cognizant Founders Cup is a week-long event that will be played on one of New Jersey’s most storied golf courses. The world’s best professional golfers will be competing for a $3 million purse, making it the largest LPGA Tour event outside the majors and the CME Group Tour Championship.
The tournament, which debuted in 2011, pays tribute to the 13 founding members of the LPGA, including surviving founders Marlene Bauer Hagge and Shirley Spork. This year marks the inaugural year with NJ-based Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH), one of the world’s leading professional services companies, as title sponsor. The 132-player field is expected to be filled with the Tour’s most talented and accomplished players, along with Castle and Avery as the 2 special exemptions.
Castle, from West Columbia, S.C., who is a rising junior on the University of Kentucky Women’s Golf Team, bested a field of 156-players while defeating Yu-Chiang (Vivian) Hou of Chinese-Taipei, 2 and 1, to capture the match-play competition at the 121st U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on August 8 at Westchester Country Club, in Rye, N.Y., earning her exemption into the 2021 Cognizant Founders Cup. Castle was seeded No. 63 out of 64 golfers after 36-hole stroke play going into match play Wednesday. She had to make a birdie on the final hole of stroke play to get into a playoff for one of the final two spots in match play.
Avery, from Riverside, Calif., earned her exemption by capturing The John Shippen Shootout, which was part of The John Shippen National Invitational, a 36-hole competition held in July at the historic Detroit (Mich.) Golf Club. The event invited the nation’s top amateur and professional black golfers to provide a platform for heightened opportunities and recognition within the sport. The John Shippen Shoot-Out was held immediately after the Invitational as a three-hole individual competition among six women, with Avery winning by shooting one under par (birdie-par-par).
“We are thrilled that Jensen Castle and Amari Avery will join our elite field of LPGA players competing in the 2021 Cognizant Founders Club at the acclaimed Mountain Ridge Country Club,” said Scott Wood, Tournament Director, Cognizant Founders Cup. “Both Castle and Avery will compete against the best professional golfers in the world, and we are excited to have them participate in this iconic event.”
“We congratulate Amari and Jensen, and are so pleased they will join the field of Founders Cup play this fall,” said Gaurav Chand, Chief Marketing Officer, Cognizant. “We are proud to be the title sponsor of the Founders Cup and have the opportunity to honor the 13 pioneering women who helped advance the game for future generations of golfers of all genders, at all levels. In partnering with the LPGA, it is Cognizant’s goal to help showcase the female players of today and support the continued evolution of diversity and inclusion in the sport, just as we continue our work to advance diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.”
Wood added, “Having Jensen Castle earn her exemption from the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is very special. The Cognizant Founders Cup benefits the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, of which Castle and several other participants in the tournament have been or are current members. Likewise for Amari Avery, earning her berth from The John Shippen Shootout, an event whose sole mission is to promote inclusion in the game of golf. The Cognizant Founders Cup is fully dedicated to engaging, empowering, and supporting girls and women through golf, and to make sports more inclusive around the world. We welcome these two dynamic young players.”
The Cognizant Founders Cup joins a long list of prominent events to be held at Mountain Ridge Country Club, including the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship in 2012; the Metropolitan Golf Association Open Championship in 1985, 1996, 2000 and 2020; the MGA’s Ike Stroke-Play Championship in 2007; the New Jersey PGA Section Championship in 1962, 1990, 2007, 2009 and 2017; and the French American Challenge in 1997. The Ross-designed and highly regarded course opened in 1931 and has varied little in 90 years. It is known for wide fairways and deceptive greens. A recent restoration has brought many of Ross’s characteristic run-off areas back to their original closely mowed state.
“There is no better venue than Mountain Ridge Country Club to carry on the great tradition of the LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup,” said Wood. “We are thrilled to bring this event to Northern New Jersey, and the home of our dedicated title sponsor Cognizant, during the beautiful fall days of October as we honor our founders and pioneers of the LPGA. The Garden State has long been a supporter of women’s golf and we think fans will embrace this event in a big way.”
Individual tickets and week-long ticket packages for the Cognizant Founders Cup can be purchased at thefounderslpga.com.