I first wrote about Germany’s Sandra Gal in, “A Star is Born,” when she won the LPGA’s Kia Classic in Los Angeles in 2011. It was her first victory. I was so impressed with her because she held it together against the formidable Jiyai Shin who was one of the dominant players on the Tour at the time and is now again. She held it together by “enjoying” her way around the golf course with an airy smile on her face. That and steady driving and precision irons inside of Shin’s.
A year later and back in Phoenix, I was able to interview her in “The Elegant Sandra Gal.” It was quite interesting because I was very intrigued by her mind state at Kia, took her back in time, and she remembered it as if it was yesterday. And that naturally segued into other mastery issues.
Once I became aware of her, I began referring to her as “The Elegant Sandra Gal.” At six feet tall, she models and is a striking young woman. But she was so gracious with her time and thoughtful answers in my interview, I said that I was going to have start referring to her as “The Elegant and Gracious Sandra Gal,” hence the title of this post. Now that I’ve done it once, I suppose I’ll let it go because I’d have to tell this story each time for it to make any sense.
Alan Shipnuck is a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated and Columnist at Golf.com. I’m not sure how it came about, but Sandra attended her first Ryder Cup at Medinah and Shipnuck talked her into writing about it. I found her post because Shipnuck tweeted about it and said that it was a “fun read.”
Well, “Ryder Cup was great theater, and quite a classroom,” is certainly all of that. But what makes this interesting is that she was writing out of her experience as a member of the 2011 Solheim Cup. Even though she’s young, she’s been associated with big time golf since she was a young girl and knew a shy Martin Kaymer, the guy who made the winning putt to lock up the Cup. And she proved her chops and learned the subtlety of the game by playing with the boys.
What was so fascinating about her piece was that she wrote empathetically from the point of view of someone who’s been in the cauldron:
…everything I saw was influenced by my experiences as a competitor. I knew everything those guys were feeling…
But the nice part about it is that she experienced the Cup as both a spectator outside the ropes and an informed observer inside the ropes. She had one other great quote that captures the whole of playing in that environment in three short sentences:
It is the best feeling in golf, when you pull off a shot in front of thousands of people, when the situation most asks for it. It is indescribable. With adrenaline pumping, your senses are on high-definition, the ball comes off the clubface faster, your swing is in-synch, every inch of your body is ready.
That’s also a pretty good, unintentional testament to the quality of the golf on the LPGA Tour.
She also has some nice observations about various players, sympathized with the nerves that caused certain others to hit bad shots and was surprised when she ran into a golf superstar who actually knew who she was and walked with her for a couple of holes.
All in all, a very well done tableau of one of the biggest events in big time professional golf. Highly recommended and complete with a very nice head shot of her with her credentials wrapped around her neck.