View From Above: Sweet swings are met with rigid competition … Big Ten champ chased by Big Ten runner-up in Beaumont? ... Slovenia’s first-ever pro.
So you want to be a professional golfer?
You should hear those women’s pros that trekked through Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon last week for the Symetra Tour’s IOA Championship.
“It was always a dream,” said both August Kim, of Purdue, and Milagros Chaves, the latter of Paraguay, but a San Diego State product.
The reality of playing pro golf, though, is a conscious, abrupt and uproarious decision.
Said Ohio State’s Katja Pogacar: “I’m the first professional golfer from Slovenia.”
There are lots of reasons to turn pro. Glory.
Thing is, though, that it’s a tough decision.
Can you hang with other equally-talented and plentiful players with the same mental toughness, beautiful swings and hard-nosed competitive fires?
It’s lonely and expensive, emotionally taxing and physically demanding.
“I decided right out of college,” said Pogacar, who failed to qualify for the LPGA Tour on her first attempt. “I played really well, though. It took one week of contemplation.”
Her career highlight was taking second place in the Big Ten Conference championship, a college event.
“The big turning point for me,” said Kim, whose 66 held the first-round lead last week, “was winning the Big Ten Tournament.”
Wait a minute!
Pogacar, 25, from Ohio State, second in the Big Ten?
Kim, 23, the Big Ten champ?
“Yeah,” says Pogacar, “she beat me.”
“It was,” said Kim, “my breakout season.”
One more time: Kim, the Big Ten champion, had the lead after one day. Second place, Pogacar, the Big Ten runner-up. Last Friday in Beaumont, she was one stroke back.
Chaves might’ve shot 77 on the opening round, but she had an albatross.
Albatross? A birdie is 1-under par on a hole. An eagle is 2-under par on a hole. Since golf loves those bird-type themes, an albatross is 3-under on a hole. Sure enough, Chaves drilled her second shot into the cup on the par-5 16th hole for a deuce.
Not many people get an albatross.
Chaves, 19, who won the Mountain West Conference championship during her sophomore season at San Diego State, shot 66 at nearby Mission Hills Country Club en route to that championship.
“The same course as the ANA Inspiration (LPGA Tournament),” she said, “and almost the same tees.”
It takes total discipline, says Chaves, who missed last week’s cut.
“I have no money, no sponsor … traveling is tough and I’ve got to learn to deal with the media,” said Pogacar.
“Playing pro golf is the result of hours and hours of work,” says Kim, whose top pro thrill was losing a playoff at the 2017 Donald Ross Classic in French Lick, Ind.
It might look easy on TV. Those smooth strokes.
Plus all the off-course stuff like sponsors, travel, housing and all the scheduling that goes into it.
Kim shot a tournament-leading 66 after one day.
By the eighth hole of round two, she was sinking. She shot 82, but made the cut.
Not every player on the Symetra Tour has a caddie. Some tote their own clubs.
“You can’t really relax,” said Pogacar, who seemed relaxed when she said it.
“It’s exhausting. Just making it to the third round is more of a mental achievement than anything.”
The term is grind.
“It’s a total grind,” said Kim.
While this trio of sparkling professionals are grinding away, golf-watchers have no real idea how tough it really is to reach that goal.