Last week at the Founders Cup in Phoenix, Alison Lee, a young American from Valencia, California, tied the course record with a 63 in the third round. That got her into the next to the last group on Sunday and I decided to follow her (and Kim Kaufman) for nine holes. She bogeyed a par 3 and after I left she made a double and a birdie, both on par 5s, for a 2-over 74. She finished T24. As on the PGA Tour, you get run over on the LPGA when you go backwards on Sunday. But in what I saw, she looked good doing it; the putts just didn’t fall.
The 63 was good enough reason to follow her, the clincher for me was that in her media center session Saturday afternoon, she was smart, well spoken, charming, warm, humorous and, okay, very attractive with a glow about her.
She’s on the LPGA because she went to Q-School last year while attending UCLA where she earned the ANNIKA Award given to the nation’s top female golfer in 2013 – 2014. Her deal with her coach was that if she won unconditional status, she would turn pro and if she earned any kind of conditional status, she would return to school to play on the team.
She won full status and turned pro immediately, but went back to school to continue work on her degree because it’s important to her to finish. She was actually finishing up finals coming into the Founders Cup. The measure of her commitment was that one of the finals fell during the week of the Founders and the professor insisted that she take the exam at the same time as the rest of the students. So the LPGA contacted the professor and he allowed LPGA staff to proctor the exam. She still doesn’t know what her grade is, but she got it done. And maybe that’s why she’s running a 3.3 GPA so far.
She plans to take the Spring semester off so that she can get a leg up on earning enough money to retain her status for next year, always the biggest hurdle for rookies because, except for Lydia Ko, it’s unusual for rookies to win in that first year.
So anyway…the trigger for this post was that here we are at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California, the very next week and after 36 holes, guess who’s tucked in at T3, one stroke back of Morgan Pressel and Mirim Lee. And she got there by shooting 69, 66 to get to 9-under.
As I said, watch out for Alison Lee.