MIDLAND, MICHIGAN | The journey to becoming a professional athlete is as individual as a fingerprint. The journey is unique and based on consistent steps towards the goal. For two Clemson University players competing in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, their journeys have taken them to this point right now. Savannah Grewal and Annabelle Pancake are at the door of the LPGA Tour and can’t wait to get in, channeling the strength of a tiger (Clemson).
Consistently dominating his golf course, Grewal enters his sixth senior year in Clemson history in career stroke average (74.22), fourth in total rounds at par or better (22) and seventh in birdies (166). . She has finished in the top 20 eight times in the past two college years. Grewal has been second on the team in stroke average each of the past two years and the second active Clemson player to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in March 2022.
“I’m going to LPGA qualifying school next summer,” Grewal said. “Then, depending on how it goes, I’ll either turn pro or spend my fifth year of eligibility at Clemson.”
Pancake had a 74.92 stroke average last year and was third on the team in stroke average the past two years. She has 13 laps at par or better among her college career 45s. Ranked Indiana State’s number one amateur and 45th in the nation by Rolex AJGA in 2020, she was the only rookie on Clemson’s starting roster in 2020-21 and played in all seven tournaments during the shortened season. by COVID. Pancake has three top-four finishes at the Indiana State Women’s Amateur statewide.
“I’m just beginning the process of transitioning into a golfing career and will be looking to Savannah,” Pancake said. “I’m looking forward to learning more about how the process works.”
Participating in an event on the LPGA Tour, especially this one with its unique format, delighted these two athletes. “We are thrilled to be here and honored to have this opportunity,” Grewal said. “You can’t play golf at a higher level than the LPGA.”
Grewal secured a spot in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational field by winning the Suzann Pettersen Qualifier presented by Frankenmuth Insurance in June, and chose college teammate Pancake as his playing partner. Having the opportunity to be in the environment of elite professional female athletes is an honor for these two Clemson teammates.
“I consider Amy Olson not only a good golfer, but also because she’s a Christian. She’s an amazing person,” Pancake said.
Grewal added: “My mother is Swedish so I look up to Annika Sorenstam. She is one of the greatest female golfers, if not the greatest female golfer in history.
On the course in the first round, Team Maple Syrup had plenty of birdie opportunities on the front and back nine. They recorded a birdie and three bogeys to finish 2 over par and land in the middle of the standings heading into the second round of play.
Speaking about their first-round performance, Grewal said, “I think we didn’t start the way we wanted to, but we bounced back. We hit some good shots and played the iron shots the way we like to hit them.”
Pancake added: “I think we definitely gave ourselves some good chances, but we burned the edges around the hole. I think our two strengths are that we have similar shots and we have the same distances for all our clubs.
This summer, Grewal and Pancake both have competitive golf goals. “I’m the first alternate for the US Women’s Amateur in Chambers Bay,” Grewal said. “I’m also deciding on the Amateur World Championship in Paris or going to qualifying for the Canadian Open.”
For Pancake, “I go to the Women’s Western Amateur, then I go to the Epson Tour event of the French Lick Charity Championship in my home state of Indiana. And then I have the US Women’s Amateur.
Being at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational challenged rising stars to move towards improving their games. Grewal shared, “I would say I’m polishing up my short game and playing smart golf.”
Pancake agreed and said, “You can never have a good enough short game.”
Finally, when asked what impressed the two athletes about the LPGA and playing with the most elite players in the world; everyone was quick to share their thoughts. “The most surprising thing is that actually people are watching us,” Grewal said. The crowds supporting women’s golf, as well as the atmosphere here in Michigan, and the stands were highlighted as their favorite feelings while attending the event.
For Pancake, growing up with siblings and parents in the game of golf also provided another path to success. Mom Libby played junior golf with Donna Wilkins, the LPGA Director of Player Services who competed professionally for 19 years.
Golf is often generational, becoming a lifelong bond in families. For these two players, their journey to the LPGA family becomes closer than they can even imagine.