Beisiegel maintains life on men's, women's tours

Isabelle Beisiegel

Just three days after making golf history, Isabelle Beisiegel was back on the course, in anything but a glamorous, pampered professional event, fighting for a spot in the country’s most democratic of tournaments. Though Beisiegel, 32, is the only female to earn status on a professional men’s tour, resting on those laurels wasn’t good enough. She decided that she wanted to try for a spot in the U.S. Women’s Open.

Beisiegel, who hails from Montreal, entered Canadian Tour qualifying school for the third time last month, advancing in a tie for the ninth and final spot at 8-over 296. Beisiegel battled rainy conditions at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville, British Columbia, which didn’t make her length disadvantage any easier.

“Even if I hit my best shot it just wasn’t enough and that’s why I’m so surprised,” Beisiegel said. “It really was kind of miraculous. I hit it in the water the last day on 16, was able to save bogey there, birdied 17, so it’s kind of neat to see it all happen.”

Beisiegel barely had time to take it all in before she had to fly to Industry Hills, Calif., for the May 31 U.S. Women’s Open sectional qualifier. She posted rounds of 73-82 to finish 11 shots out of one of the four spots available in the Open. By the end of the week, Beisiegel was teeing it up halfway across the country in Marian, Iowa for the LPGA Futures Tour’s Ladies Titan Tire Challenge, where she finished with a share of eighth.

Typical of Beisiegel’s work ethic, she’ll play in the Futures Tour’s Teva Championship in Mason, Ohio this weekend. It proves that she isn’t just happy with the occasional men’s event, she wants a life on both tours. When questioned about her decision to boldly go where no other female golfer has gone before her, Beisiegel simply says, “Why not?”

“I want to play both tours, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “It’s just an ultimate test.”

Beisiegel became the first woman to compete in men’s qualifying school in 2004 when she entered PGA Tour Q-School. She played in three Monday qualifiers for Nationwide Tour events the year before.

Since that first foray into men’s professional golf, Beisiegel has tried her hand at five more PGA Tour Q-Schools, and her success in Canadian Tour Q-School came in her third start in that event. Beisiegel also is a veteran of eight LPGA Q-Schools, earning her card for the 2004 season after finishing with a share of medalist honors in 2003.

It’s safe to say she doesn’t find the experience of q-school all that gruesome, which is an attitude that separates her from the average professional golfer.

“After you’ve worked for a couple years and you don’t have status and you make it through the first part, you’re like, ‘Yes, I get to go to LPGA finals!’” she explained. “It’s all about perspective.”

Beisiegel is noticeable by the flower she wears behind her ear for each tournament, a tradition she has maintained since traveling to Ohio in 2003 for a Futures Tour event. Her husband Dan sends her the flowers. At first it was only a rose, but now it’s often a carnation.

The flower serves as just one detail that separates the cheerful Beisiegel from the rest of the field, be it men or women. Another is her unwavering spirituality. Beisiegel leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on the Futures Tour, and speaks often of her strong faith.

“If I’m just made to persevere and fail at every turn, that’s OK,” she said of her chosen path. “... Some people may not value that, but for me, I know God values that.”

After all, it hasn’t always been easy for Beisiegel, who battled Graves disease and Hashimotos’ Thyroiditis from 2005-06. After surgery in 2006, Beisiegel was so weak in 2007 that she was unable to advance in the handful of LPGA Monday qualifiers in which she played. With a depleted bank account, she took a desk job with Merrill Lynch, where Dan is a financial advisor, for two years before playing seven events on the Futures Tour last year.

“That was awesome,” she said of entering the golf world again. “I just started really enjoying it again and enjoying the travel and camaraderie and decided to quit my job in November 2010 so I could play golf full time. That’s what brings me to now.”

Next on Beisiegel’s competition schedule is the CN Canadian Women’s Tour event in Montreal next week. She’ll make her first start on the men’s Canadian Tour in July, with the ultimate goal of finishing inside the top 90 on the money list so she can retain her card for next year.

“I really do feel that I’m called to do both because I’ve always wanted to grow the game, the whole game, not just one side,” Beisiegel said of her future with the game. “It’s never been about gender.”

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