KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Minutes after Rory McIlroy sunk a birdie on the 18th hole of the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, Gail Hedgepeth got down to business. Adjusting her thick glasses built for magnification, Hedgepeth begins to engrave the PGA Championship's Wanamaker Trophy with the 23-year-old's name.
Letter by letter, first with a rose thorn from the stem of a rose and then a chisel, Hedgepeth begins the painstaking process of perfection.
When McIlroy hit the 15th hole, Hedgepeth said she was as "cool as a cucumber." She pulled out McIlroy's PGA Championship entry form and verified the spelling of his name.
After 30 years in the business of hand engraving, Hedgepeth is gearing up for crunch time. The engraver digs into the silver trophy, the moment McIlroy's name comes across the radio as the PGA Championship champion.
Over the last four years of working with the PGA, Hedgepeth has learned to wait until the winner's name is announced.
"The first Championship I did was at Hazeltine," said Hedgepeth. "What we did not expect was a playoff between Y.E. Yang and Tiger Woods. I had no prior time to write the name down. It happened so quickly I inscribed the name in 12 minutes."
The master hand engraver now lives by two rules: be sure and be accurate.
"You cannot go but so fast or you'll ruin the integrity and compromise the beauty of the engraving," said Hedgepeth.
At 6:40 Sunday night, Rory roared to victory on the Ocean Course.
12 minutes later, Hedgepeth hustled out the door, onto a cart bound for the 18th green.
"It's an incredible feeling to sit up here and see this trophy," said McIlroy, in a post-celebration press conference.
McIlroy is now a two-time major champion and the golfer's name will forever be on the Wanamaker Trophy thanks to flawless work behind the scenes.
"I'm very excited to be a small part of the event," said Hedgepeth. "However, a very important part of the event because when the winner is standing in the clubhouse and receives his trophy I am thrilled to know that I engraved it and his name is on it."
Hedgepeth began her engraving career at 16-years-old at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. After years of apprenticeships and training, Hedgepeth opened her own business called GS Engraving.
Over the years Gail has engraved pieces for former President's of the United States, on church silver on display in the Vatican and a handful of other trophy's along the PGA Tour.