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Roswell hosts unique tournament

ROSWELL -- Spurred by a desire to honor her late parents, Lauren Judson turned to the only thing she knew: golf.

A college player at Southern Miss, Judson grew up on the links at the Country Club of Roswell and working with her connections through both college golf and at the country club the tournament became more than just a memorial for the Judsons.

Working with tournament director Jackie Cannizzo the event grew from a college invitation tournament to include players on the Legends Tour, a senior tour event for former LPGA players.

"It's been kind of a shock," Judson said of the growth of her idea.

Played for the first time a year ago, the Judson Collegiate Invitational and Legends Pro-Am Challenge combines the top women collegiate golfers and the Legends players.

This year's event begins Friday with a pro-am five-person scramble with a Legends player, a collegiate player and three amateurs. Saturday is a stroke play tournament for the Legends the first round of a three-day tournament for the college golfers and the college tournament concludes with play Sunday and Monday.

"This was Lauren's brainchild," Cannizzo said. "We kind of said, 'Let's do something big.'"

Led by Legends player coordinator and 13-time LPGA winner Rosie Jones, the Legends field include players like LPGA Hall of Famers Amy Alcott, a five-time major winner, Pat Bradley, a six-time major champion, Donna Caponi, four-time major winner, Betsy King, a two-time major champion, Nancy Lopez, a three-time major winner and six-time major winner Kathy Whitworth.

"I couldn't be more proud to be involved in an event like this, personally," Jones said. "It's inspirational to be involved with a tournament of this magnitude. We are super-excited to be here."

The field of 30 LPGA will be joined by 60 collegiate players. The collegiate players are pooled from an invitation-only field of the top players in Divisions I, II and III. Ohio State's Rachel Rohanna won last year's event.

Following last year's event, the collegiate players kept in touch with some of the professionals they met, according to Jones.

"They are going to see a professional tournament," Jones said. "I didn't see a professional golfer until I turned pro. We have the opportunity here to break the ice a little bit and show a little of the history of the LPGA."

And raise money.

The tournament proceeds benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, a charity fitting of the Judsons. Jim and Beth Judson were killed in a plane crash in 2010 in a private plane crash.

A tragedy their children, Lauren and Dean turned into this tournament.

"This honors my parents in the perfect way," Lauren said.