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Local amateur golfer gets her shot at the AmazingCre Portland Classic

George Fox University golfer Makensie Toole was awarded a sponsor's exemption to play in this year's tournament. Her coach followed her as she teed off on Thursday.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The butterflies were heavier than usual at Columbia Edgewater Country Club's tenth tee box on Thursday.

“Oh, she's ready. She's most definitely ready,” said Mary Jo McCloskey. “She's playing with the best women in the world.”

McCloskey, better known as MJ, is the director of golf and head women’s golf coach for George Fox University. Her nerves were for George Fox sophomore Makensie Toole.

“We've talked quite a bit just trying to get her to relax again…and her to relax me,” McCloskey smiled.

An Australian native, Toole is already a decorated amateur golfer with an impressive resume including last year’s individual Division III national championship.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

McCloskey’s butterflies were feeling like eagles, but really any type of birdie would do as she followed Toole’s first round. 

“Definitely one of those moments for sure,” McCloskey said proudly, talking about her biggest coaching memories. 

Several weeks before the tournament, Toole was awarded a sponsor’s exemption to play in the 2022 AmazingCre Portland Classic.

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“When someone who’s really earned it, and has worked hard for it and isn’t expecting something…to be able to give them a big boost that could actually be a huge step in pursuing their dreams. It’s a gift, it’s a blessing for me, as well as the person receiving it,” said chairman of the Tournament Golf Foundation Mark Ganz. Toole also runs the social media account for the tournament.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

On the course Thursday, McCloskey also mentioned the hard work Toole has put in. 

“(She is) definitely a leader of the team, she's always pumping everyone up and it's not about her. It's about the team,” she said. “Her work ethic is so strong and everyone sees how hard she works and they follow right along and do the same.”

RELATED: Andrea Lee rises again and wins Portland for 1st LPGA title

With her coach and George Fox teammates rooting her on, Toole got her shot with one of her biggest fans by her side carrying her clubs. Her dad who flew in from Australia to be here for his daughter's big moment, hopefully the first of many.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

Toole was the first amateur from George Fox since 2016 to play in the AmazingCre Portland Classic. McCloskey reflected on how Toole and her teammates fit right into the culture at George Fox.

“Their dedication, their commitment. They’re non-scholarship players,” she said. “They're basically choosing George Fox for the sport but also for academics and they're, they're great student athletes.”

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

Toole finished the weekend at +9, missing the Friday cut. Maybe the weekend didn’t end with her holding a trophy, but what a moment for Toole and her team.

“It's all about…growing as a group and everyone supports each other,” said McCloskey. “If you're willing to put in the time and the energy and you're super passionate about what you do, you can go as far as you want.”

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