Schreefel was joined on the LPGA this year by her former Dutch National Team teammate Christel Boeljon. Boeljon went on to earn a spot on the winning European Solheim Cup squad, becoming the first Dutch player to represent her nation in the biennial team match-play event between Europe and the United States.
But both players made an impact in the United States long before each earned their spot on the LPGA’s roster.
Schreefel was the individual champion at the 2006 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship while at the University of Southern California. She also was a tournament winner on the 2009 LPGA Futures Tour and finished in the top 10 on the Futures Tour’s money list to earn 2010 LPGA membership.
Boeljon played collegiately at Purdue University and was the individual runner-up at the 2007 NCAA Championship. A winner on the Ladies European Tour, she tied for 14th at last year’s LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn 2011 LPGA membership.
Their parallel paths finally merged into one tour this season. Now, the two Dutch players sometimes travel together and are always looking after each other’s best interests an ocean away from home.
“We get along really well and we’ve known each other for such a long time,” said Boeljon, who is two years younger than Schreefel. “When I started in golf, Dewi [pronounced DAY-vee) was already playing, so I sort of followed her. Now on the LPGA, we always wish each other the best in every round. It never feels like we’re playing against each other.”
The two often faced each other in junior and amateur golf, but they also represented the Netherlands together in European competition. When they both went to the United States to play golf collegiately, they rarely competed against each other except in regional and national tournaments. Schreefel was in school on the west coast and playing in the Pac-10 Conference while Boljon was in the Big Ten Conference and competing in the upper Midwest of America. But both always knew how each other was playing.
Even when Schreefel stayed in the United States after college to play on the LPGA Futures Tour, and Boljon left Purdue one year early to turn professional and return to Europe to play on the LET, the two players kept in touch. Boljon knew about Schreefel’s win on the Futures Tour and Schreefel knew when her former Dutch teammate was winning abroad.
“I think results speak for themselves,” said Schreefel, a three-time All-American who also helped the University of Southern California win the 2008 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship. “Every year that Christel has been a pro, she has improved. She sets goals and she reaches them. She’s a great player.”
The two also pushed each other this year on the LPGA Tour. Schreefel tied for 11th at the 2011 RICOH Women’s British Open and tied for 18th at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia tournament. Boljon posted solid rookie finishes this season with a tie for 15th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and top-10s at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event and at the Mizuno Classic in Japan.
Not surprisingly, when Boljon made the European Solheim Cup team, one of the first people she heard from was her old pal Schreefel.
“She sent me a really nice message when I qualified for the Solheim Cup team and she said she was proud of me,” said Boljon, who finished 52nd on the LPGA’s 2011 money list. “I had set it as a goal and she said she thought it was impressive that I pulled it off. I just hope we can play in the 2013 Solheim Cup together. That would be really cool.”
Added Schreefel of that possibility: “She was the first Dutch player on the Solheim Cup and she represented herself, our country, and Europe so well. It’s inspiring. I want to be there.”
The two players also hope they can show the way to other young players back home in the Netherlands. Schreefel thinks it might take a few years for others to follow them to the LPGA. Some may come through the college ranks, as they did, and others may join them through the LPGA’s annual qualifying tournament.
“Slowly but surely, I think we’ll set an example for young players to come over here and compete,” said Schreefel, who finished 62nd on the LPGA’s 2011 money list. “It’s a big step to take if you haven’t been over here playing college golf.
“It’s a higher level and it might take a few years for them to come, but Christel, for sure, is someone for them to watch with her resume right now,” Schreefel added. “They can see if you work for something, you can make it and you can play with the world’s best players.”
Boeljon says there is “a gap between now and the players who are coming” to the LPGA in the near future, but she is optimistic that others will follow as golf is growing in Holland.
“It will be good, but we will have to wait a few years,” she said. “There’s a good junior program back home. The Dutch Golf Federation is an excellent association and in the future, I know we will have more really talented players from Holland.”
But for now, Boeljon and Schreefel are the LPGA’s Dutch treat, and already, they have been worthy additions to Europe’s growing cast of rising young stars.
By Lisa D. Mickey
Topics: Schreefel, Dewi Claire