JOHNS CREEK, Ga. | It’s a short list of players who have multiple wins since the last KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. In fact, the grand total is three: defending champion Sei Young Kim who followed up her major breakthrough with a win at the 2020 Pelican Championship; Nelly Korda, ranked third in the Rolex Rankings with two wins in 2021 and on everyone’s short list of favorites to win a major, perhaps by Sunday night. The third and almost forgotten player on that list is Ally Ewing, who captured the Drive On Championship at Reynolds Lake Oconee on her birthday last October and then won the Bank of Hope Match Play hosted by Shadow Creek last month on her wedding anniversary.
Ewing, ranked 18th in the world and one of a few players who could potentially change the four-woman U.S. squad for the Tokyo Olympics, is a different player now than when she showed up on the LPGA Tour as a rookie in 2016.
“It’s confidence, mostly,” she said of her maturation as a winner. “Also, a security that I feel in myself. It’s not that I doubted what I was doing or doubted my process. But there’s a security in seeing that everything is working. Seeing myself make a putt to win a golf tournament and hoisting a trophy, that’s the main thing for me. Prior to winning, so much of your mindset is hanging onto ‘I think I can, I think I can.’ But until you actually do it, you don’t know 100% that you actually can.
“Plus, there are so many great players out here. You’re going to have weeks out here where you play really great golf and don’t get it done because someone’s going to play better. That’s just the reality of our sport. But I’ve been able to find myself in the winner’s circle twice now.
“Being able to call myself a winner and ride that confidence is the difference-maker for me in terms of where I stand now versus where I stood a year ago.”
No matter where she stands, no matter the expectations, Ewing plays this week and every week with a higher purpose, a mission that is bigger than her wins.
“The mission every day, every week, on and off the course is to lead people to Christ,” she said before firing the first shots at this major championship. “That’s the goal. Sometimes we plant the seed but don’t see the flower. But every day the mission is to reach people who might not know Him. We play with different players from all over the world every week. And we might not have the opportunity to share our faith on the golf course. But so much of what we do is leading by example. While I’m not a perfect person – I fall short on a daily basis – if I can set a small example, whether it’s inside the ropes or outside the ropes, that is my No. 1 goal and the perspective I bring to my entire career.”
She comes from a strong, faithful family. Ewing’s parents, Jamie and Angie McDonald, are three-church-services-a-week kind of people who brought up their children to serve humbly and honorably no matter what life throws your way. For Ally, that life-lesson was tested before her career even began. A star on the victorious 2015 U.S. Curtis Cup team and an All-American at Mississippi State University, Ewing had just qualified for the LPGA Tour when she received what she thought was devastating news.
“It was a Wednesday,” she said. “I went to a regular doctor’s appointment and they drew blood. That night, right before Wednesday night church services, I got the call.”
The diagnosis was Type-1 diabetes, a condition she will manage for the rest of her life.
“I went in to tell my dad. My mom was already at church doing something. I was like, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve just gotten my LPGA Tour card.’ It felt life-shattering. I would never say that I questioned my faith. But I did say, ‘Okay, God, you’re going to have to navigate this and make this for your glory.’
“In hindsight, that’s exactly what He did. The number of people I’ve come into contact with and hopefully influenced by being a diabetic has been huge. People that might not have followed my career see me and follow me because of my diabetes. Hopefully they are moved closer to God because of my example.”
She prays often. When she won last fall – the last LPGA Tour player to win in Georgia before this major championship just north of Atlanta – Ewing spent much of the weekend in prayer. “I kept praying, ‘Lord, give me the courage and give me the faith to know that I can do this,’” she said. “That is really all we can ask for.”
Her game is made for major championships. A solid ball striker who hits an enormous number of fairways and greens, it surprised no one that she played her way into the final pairing on Sunday at the ANA Inspiration or that she made the cut in the U.S. Women’s Open the week after a marathon victory in Las Vegas, playing the entire week at Olympic Club without a double bogey. “It certainly gives me confidence that I’ve won twice leading into a major,” she said.
But she won’t tee off on Thursday thinking about the trophy that sits near the grand tutor clubhouse at Atlanta Athletic Club. Nor will Ewing think about the prize money or the possibility of locking up a spot in the Olympics. Her goals are different and unseen.
“I always go back to Matthew 6:19-21,” she said. “’Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
“Everything on this earth is temporary,” she said. “I know that God has given me this ability and he’s put me on this platform to glorify Him. That’s why I play. That’s why I’m here.”