June 2004. A favorite student and I are talking about meeting up after the US Open at Pumpkin Ridge Country Club where her family are members. My family and her family plan to meet afterwards at a restaurant for dinner. Coincidentally, within 60 seconds of walking the course, I bump into her. She says “change of plans” and “can you please join us at the house for a barbeque instead”?
Turns out they were hosting a young player, Katherine Hull, from Australia, fresh out of Pepperdine where she set an NCAA record with a 64 in one tournament. Hull hadn’t qualified for the Open, but like Lance Armstrong pre TdF, she was walking the course, doing reconnaissance for future opens.
I was amazed by her selflessness, personality, and maturity. Despite staying in other people’s houses all the time, she interacted with everyone for the entire meal, talking to A and J and eventually signing golf balls for them. I learned she took up golf kind of late and is a committed Christian.
Truth be told, she made a more lasting impression on me than the double X’s. Probably in part because they have never fantasized about playing golf for a living. Long story short, I’ve followed her career ever since. Last weekend, she shot 65 on Saturday (low round of the day) and finished tied for 7th. Career earnings, $2.2m+.
She was incredibly grounded in 2004. My guess is her success and the money haven’t gone to her head.
Footnote: How much is the LPGA struggling? Hull’s tied for 7th paycheck, $24k. Last week’s tied for 7th PGA paychecks, $199.5k.