Tuscaloosa is a town known for its success on the football field, and rightly so. The Alabama Crimson Tide football program has collected six national championships in the span of 15 years. Football reigns supreme in the south, but the University of Alabama has produced some of the biggest names in the world of golf as well, with the likes of Jerry Pate and Justin Thomas among the bunch. The women’s golf program took a huge step forward when it won the 2012 national championship. It became the first program outside of football and gymnastics to bring a national championship back to Tuscaloosa.
Cheyenne Knight took the next big step for the Alabama Women’s Golf program, becoming the first women Crimson Tide alumna to win on the LPGA Tour, winning twice in her career, first at the 2019 Volunteers of America Classic and then at the 2023 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.
Four players are competing this week at the Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic who have played collegiately at the University of Alabama and are looking to join Knight as a winner on the LPGA Tour in the future: Lakareber Abe, Kristen Gillman, Angelica Moresco, and Kenzie Wright.
Lakareber Abe represented the Crimson Tide from 2014-2018, picking up multiple All-SEC selections, and has the school record for the lowest round in program history with a 9-under 63. Abe currently sits at No. 128 on the Epson Tour Official money list but is excited to be back in familiar territory and is grateful the Tuscaloosa community is supporting women’s golf.
“It’s really fun coming back to the place and people who helped me start my career,” said Abe. “It’s special for Epson Tour to come to Tuscaloosa and for Tuscaloosa to support women’s golf.”
Kirsten Gillman had one of the most decorated amateur careers a player could have. It started before she was on the Alabama Women’s Golf Team and continued once she was a part of the team. Gillman won her first US Women’s Amateur before she walked through the doors of the University of Alabama and then won her second US Women’s Amateur while representing the Crimson Tide. Gillman played two seasons before declaring professional, but she was a First-Team All-American twice in her two seasons and set multiple program records. Since leaving Tuscaloosa, Gillman has not found quite the success she was looking for but has still had a promising start to a good career. She finished second in the LPGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year standings in 2019 and has recorded five career top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour. Now she is playing full-time on the Epson Tour and is currently No. 16 in the Race for the Card standings, a few strong finishes away from locking in her place on the LPGA Tour next season.
“I have really enjoyed being back in Tuscaloosa,” said Gillman. “I feel like it’s really good for the Epson tour to be here and just have the home crowd of Alabama fans supporting women’s golf and this event so I’m excited to be playing this week.”
Angelica Moresco is the most recent Crimson Tide representative to join the Epson Tour. Moresco is a rookie for the 2023 season and has had a steady start to her professional career. While at Alabama, she was on the SEC All-Freshman team and had multiple top-5 finishes representing the university. Now, Moresco is No. 75 on the Epson Tour Official Money List, with the top 80 receiving full status on the Epson Tour for the 2024 season. The rookie hopes to play well on a course she knows well this week in Tuscaloosa.
“This (Tuscaloosa) has been a second home to me for the past six years, and it just means the world to get to compete where I played as a collegiate athlete,” explained Moresco. “I remember playing my first ever college qualifying at Ol’ Colony as a freshman. Just thinking of where I am now and what I have been able to achieve thanks to Alabama Athletics is very special. Being surrounded by friends, teammates and coaches makes it mean so much more than just a golf tournament. I’m very excited for the rest of the week and grateful for the Epson Tour and the sponsors that have made this event possible.”
Rounding out the Crimson Tide representatives is Kenzie Wright, who was a part of the program from 2018 to 2021 after transferring from Southern Methodist University. Wright was All-SEC and All-American in 2020 and represented the United States at the 2020 Palmer Cup as well. Wright has a top-10 finish this year on the Epson Tour and is entering the week on an upward trajectory. She has steadily recorded a better placement in her last three events, finishing T31 last week at Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. Wright will try to keep the upward finishes going with a top finish at the Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic.
“It means a lot coming back here and seeing how much the community welcomes this event,” said Wright. “It definitely feels like a home tournament for me, so I’m excited to see what I can do.”