CLIFTON NJ — Ally Ewing might’ve squandered her chance of winning the Cognizant Founders Cup with a third-round 74 Saturday that left her eight shots back of leader Minjee Lee.
But the month of May still figures to bring several more title opportunities for the Ewing family – yes, family.
Ewing’s husband, Charlie Ewing, is the head women’s golf coach at Mississippi State, where Ewing holds several school records, including career scoring average and rounds played, and is the only player in program history to win an individual regional title. Last Wednesday, Charlie’s Bulldogs advanced to their first NCAA Championship since 2014, Ally’s junior year.
While Ally defends her title at next week’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play in Las Vegas ahead of the following week’s US Women’s Open, Charlie and the Bulldogs will be one of 24 teams vying for a national championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“The girls have put together some good golf this year, so I knew they had the capability 100% to make it to nationals,” Ally said. “They played some solid golf and we’ll get to tee it up for the national championship at Grayhawk. And I’ll get to go support, which I’m really excited about.”
Ally and Charlie met at Mississippi State’s practice facility in August 2017, about a month into Charlie’s previous position as assistant coach for the Bulldogs – Charlie was promoted in December 2020 – and they started dating “pretty quickly,” Charlie said.
Though both have loaded schedules, they make it work, with Charlie attending tournaments in between the college season and recruiting trips and Ally spending time back in Starkville with Charlie and his squad.
Part of the team’s success can be attributed to Ally’s involvement.
“[Ally] likes to embrace a little bit of team mom role and host the team a little bit and do that,” Charlie told GolfChannel.com via phone on Saturday, “but also be a resource when it comes to the golf side of things and give the players a little bit different perspective than what we provide as coaches because she’s obviously playing at that LPGA tour level. And that’s somewhere where a lot of our golfers want to get to.”
Like Ally’s pro career, where she’s won twice but didn’t get her first win until 2020 (five years after turning pro), the road to success for these current Bulldogs hasn’t been instant.
Mississippi State was playing well in Charlie’s first semester as head coach, ranked around the top 25, before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following season, the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Regionals after making the SEC Championship final, but they were eliminated without hitting a shot as the Baton Rouge Regional was controversially called because of inclement weather and poor playing conditions.
Full-field scores from the Cognizant Founders Cup
Though those past hardships could be seen as motivation, Charlie says the team is just thankful it finally has a chance to compete for a national title.
“The biggest response that we wanted to have was gratitude,” Charlie said. “That no matter how hard you work, how well you play, there’s a lot of external factors that can just kind of sweep the rug out from under you, and that takes the opportunity away from you that you’ve worked hard for and that you’ve earned.
“[In 2020], we were well on their way to an invitation to the postseason that year, but then it’s taken away from them. Last year, of course, they thought they play well enough and earn their invitation into the postseason, gets taken away from them. And then this year, we actually get to go play.”
And Ally, as Charlie and the Bulldogs did for her on Saturday in New Jersey, will be cheering them on.