Current Residence: Versailles, Ky. / Scottsdale, Ariz.
Hometown: Versailles, Ky.
Home Golf Course: University Club of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
College: University of Florida (2005-07) / University of Kentucky (2007-09)
Big Break Seasons: Big Break Ireland – Semi-finalist; Big Break NFL Puerto Rico – Semi-finalist
Since Competing on Big Break: Currently competing full time on the Symetra Tour. Recorded her first professional victory in April at the Symetra Classic. Engaged to fellow Big Break Ireland contestant Julien Trudeau, getting married Sept. 27, the day before both Julien and Mallory travel to compete on the Big Break Invitational.
Big Break NFL PUERTO RICO BIO
- Daughter of former LPGA Professional and University of Kentucky coach Myra Blackwelder and professional caddie Worth Blackwelder (currently caddying for Cristie Kerr)
- Competed in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2008 as an amateur (made the cut and was T10 after first round)
- Two-time winner in college, one at the University of Florida and one at the University of Kentucky
- Competed full time on the Ladies European Tour in 2010
- Sat out 2012 season with elbow injury
- Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2012
- Returned to competitive golf in 2013, playing full time on the Symetra Tour.
Since Big Break Ireland…
“Everything happens for a reason.” That is Mallory Blackwelder’s motto heading into Big Break NFL Puerto Rico.
One of the more experienced competitors on the series, Mallory advanced to the semifinals of Big Break Ireland before being eliminated by Mark Murphy and Julien Trudeau. She and Julien have been dating since the series concluded in 2011.
Julien helped Mallory close out the 2011 Symetra Tour season as her caddie. She also advanced to the final stage of LPGA Q-School, earning full status on the Symetra Tour for 2012.
Following LPGA Q-School, Mallory began experiencing pain and stiffness in her right elbow so severe she could not straighten her arm. She took time off before the 2012 season, hoping the elbow would recover, but fter her first three events in 2012, with no improvement, she shut her game down and had surgery in June.
“It was hard for me not being out there and competing every week,” said Mallory. “But at the same time, I knew this was what I needed to do in order to get back to 100 percent. Or so I thought.”
Surgery and rehabilitation did not completely correct the problem. She saw a specialist and, ultimately, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and eventual loss of function in the joints if not treated properly.
“That was a very difficult time for me, because RA is a very scary thing for anyone to go through, especially an athlete of my age,” said Mallory. “Instead of letting this new diagnosis hold me back, I used it to make some changes in my life to help me feel better and return to golf. I have changed my diet to gluten-free and dairy-free, and I started taking two medications to stop the swelling and potential join damage that RA can cause. I had no choice but to embrace the diagnoses and stay positive. I am looking forward to becoming a role model for other young people with this disease to prove that you can still pursue your dreams while living with RA.”
She returned to the Symetra Tour full time for the 2013 season with a new perspective on golf and life.
“Taking a year off from golf was difficult, said Mallory. “I didn’t expect the comeback to be as challenging as it has been. I know I still have the game to compete and win, I just have to find it again.
“Big Break Ireland was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she continued. “I didn’t win, but in a way, I did, in meeting Julien. He was my support system last year through my struggles. We joke all the time about how we have unfinished business on Big Break. And then I got the call to return to Big Break for a reunion show.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
BIG BREAK IRELAND BIO
One of the most experienced competitors on Big Break Ireland, Mallory has golf in her genes. Her mother, Myra Blackwelder, was a 13-year member of the LPGA Tour and Rookie of the Year in 1980. Her father, Worth Blackwelder, has caddied for many of the top players in the game, including Dottie Pepper, Juli Inkster, Natalie Gulbis and Cristie Kerr.
“Golf is all I have known,” said Blackwelder. “I was out on tour even before I was born, and I grew up around some of the best players in the game. Now my goal is to be one of them.”
Even though Blackwelder grew up in and around golf, basketball was her first sport of choice growing up. “I remember all of the other girls at school talking about playing basketball, and I thought, ‘That sounds like fun. I want to be on a team.’ I loved it.”
At age 11, her mother signed her up for the Pepsi Junior Golf Tour. Her parents asked her to give golf a try.
“My mom was great about it. She said ‘Mallory, if you like it, then great. If not, then that’s ok too.’ It took me a little while, but I got hooked.”
As a 13-year-old, she won six out of seven Pepsi Junior Golf Tour events in the 14-15 age division, and then began to play in national junior tournaments. Several top colleges and universities began to take notice.
Blackwelder, normally a planner, committed to the University of Florida without ever visiting the school. When the scholarship offer came in, she accepted that night.
She attended Florida for two years. As fate would have it, her mother, who retired from competitive golf, accepted the head golf coaching position at the University of Kentucky.
She transferred to Kentucky to play for her mother, where she blossomed. The summer after her sophomore year, she won the Women’s Western Amateur. The spring of her junior year, she earned an invitation to compete in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, an LPGA major, making the cut.
“Right then and there I knew this is what I wanted to do for a living,” said Blackwelder. “Playing alongside the LPGA’s best players was an amazing experience. And to have my parents with me, it was awesome.”
Blackwelder turned pro after graduating with a marketing degree in May 2009. In 2010, she competed half the season on the Ladies European Tour, and also had limited status on the LPGA Tour. Traveling the world, she endured a difficult but successful season. In 2011, she has limited status on the Ladies European Tour by chose to play full time on the LPGA Futures Tour (now the Symetra Tour).
Calling 2010 a “sophomore slump,” she is more determined than ever to get back on the LPGA Tour and follow in the footsteps of her mother.
Big Break Ireland might be that next big step she needs.