Tiffany Lua’s LPGA Debut
There will be a new face in the field this year for the Women’s U.S. Open, only not really. We’ve seen her before, at least we think we have. Actually, Tiffany Lua has been here three times, but never as a professional, and this year, she’s going to try it as a person intent on making a living at this absurdly competitive game.
Tiffany got her debut out of the way, albeit a quiet one, on the cactus tour, and won a thousand plus change for her efforts – that’s a positive step, have fun, develop and make a little money. Her amateur credits are impeccable, and she spent a lot of time in the national top twenty through her years at UCLA. Still, she’s about to experience golf in the trenches, all those ups and downs of an aspiring career, different from the entrenched stars on the tour.
Granted, anyone who plays professionally can lose his or her card, and you do have to keep your game up for all kinds of reasons. However, right after the U.S. Open, Tiffany will head to the LPGA Q school in August. Inbee and Stacy don’t have to do that anymore, and probably won’t ever have to again.
Looking at a hundred photos of Tiffany to choose for an article, one has to be struck with the impression that this is a really nice kid (sorry, at my age, everyone’s a kid). She’s also coming out of a fairly serene collegiate atmosphere (for those who are not familiar with UCLA, it’s not in the middle of LA – It’s four miles from the beach in a rather beautiful part of the region – I loved it there). She is also entering a regimen that demands her constant supervision, unlike college days where so much is provided. Granted, she doesn’t have to take eighteen credit hours at the same time, but physical and emotional fatigue are real issues on tour. The intensity of the competition didn’t seem to bother Tiffany in a fairly substantial and successful amateur career (or in her days as a competitive swimmer), but it might be good that she majored in psych – she’s gonna need it.
I hope that Tiffany can retain some of the niceties that got her here. Close families and upfront support (like your mother caddying and driving the cart – what I wouldn’t give to have that again) are irreplaceable. Family attendance is probably a given, and travel is part of her background, after two Curtis Cup Team appearances (in the first year, finished with a 3-1-0 match record), a Junior Solheim stint, an NCAA national championship in 2011, and a semi-finalist finish in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, after several appearances. That kind of itinerary goes all the way back to five U.S. Girls Championship appearances, and taking up the sport at the age of eight.
This year, the Open is played at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. It’s certainly a different climate and terrain from the soft sun of Westwood, but I suspect that Tiffany is ready to take the plunge, backed up by her winning ways. The photos may indicate a “nice” kid, but they certainly don’t suggest an uncompetitive or fragile one, either. Likewise, they didn’t for any of the other young superstars-in-waiting, and every new face has to face the experience of hardened, wise veterans who are currently on top for good reason. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on Tiffany and others in her situation beginning the climb in this difficult profession. I, for one, suspect that her day will come.