I was born and raised in Berwyn, Illinois, a blue-collar suburb just outside of Chicago. Golf is not a common sport for Berwynites to play, but I started anyway when I was 11 years old. I would ride my bike to Riverside Country Club, which was about a 20 minute bike ride away. I started to caddy there when I was 13 years old. I was practically the only girl in the caddy shack.
On Mondays I would play the golf course. Golf was just one of the many sports I played. I liked baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and even football. Yep, I was definitely a “Tom boy” and wanted to do everything like my brother. My best sport was probably baseball. I was a pitcher with a sinking curve ball and loved competing with the boys.
I believe in the adage that “the higher you climb, the further you will see.” My childhood, and the people that helped me transform into the person I am today, all in their own way, taught me to have the courage to work hard and strive for what I want. I credit my mom, George Lucas, Dr. Jim Suttie, my long-standing boyfriend, Jody Keepers, and Cog Hill Golf and Country Club for influencing my entrance into professional golf.
I had a lot of success on my way to becoming a professional player on the LPGA in 1994. I won the 1990 Ohio Girls Invitational and was a semifinalist at the 1991-1992 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships. I also won eight titles while playing collegiate golf at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and won the MVP award from 1989-1992. In 1998, NIU inducted me in the University Hall of Fame. I was the youngest person ever to be inducted.
Marital Status: I’m not married but have a significant other, Jody Keepers. We’ve been dating for quite sometime… I’ve lost count of the years, it’s been so many. Jody is from Augusta, Georgia, and we met at the LPGA event near his home. Jody had an off week from caddying on the Men’s Tours and read about the LPGA event in the newspaper. Jody hung out in the parking lot looking for a caddy job.I showed up without a caddy and skeptically hired him for the day. By the 3rd hole, I knew I found something good. He was also the best caddy I ever had and we finished 27th that week. Eventually he caddied for me again, and very soon after that we started dating. Jody caddies for me often, but not enough. Jody continues to caddy on all the tours (PGA, Champions, LPGA, Web.com) for various people.
Person I most admire: The person I most admire that is not a professional golfer is my mom. I am amazed by her bravery and intelligence. She finds a way of making things work out, no matter the situation. She may wobble a little bit and get a few bruises along the way, but she lands on her feet every time. She is from Germany and left home when she was 18 to find a better quality of life.
After waitress in England to learn English and save money for the boat ride across the “pond,” she came to the United States. She was 23 when she arrived here and worked as a maid to save money to go to beauty school. My mom met my dad while she was in school, and he helped her study. They married after her graduation, quickly had three children, and then suddenly my father got sick and died. My mom raised three kids by herself, and her courage and intelligence made us who we are today. My brother is now an orthopedic surgeon, my sister is a nurse, and I am a professional golfer on the LPGA.
People I admire in the Golf World: In the golf world I most admire Annika Sorenstam for her work ethic and Lorena Ochoa for being one of the best golfers ever, yet still remaining sincere and kind. I also admire Nancy Lopez and Julie Inkster for raising children while being the best women golfers in the world. Of course, all of these women, I admire for their golf skills.
When I knew I wanted to play professional golf: It wasn’t until my junior year in college when I realized I wanted to play professional golf. I always played golf because I loved the sport. I was good at it, and it was paying for my college education. Professional golf never crossed my mind until I met a man named George Lucas.
I was working at Cog Hill and saw this beautiful, friendly golden retriever. Since I have to pet every dog I see, I introduced myself to the owner, George Lucas. George and his dog, Corky, were at Cog Hill to laser measure the course for the PGA Tour Event. That week George recognized my talent and convinced me to try to qualify for the LPGA event that was just around the corner.
George caddied for me and with his help and confidence in me, I shot 68 and qualified for my first LPGA tournament in Oak Brook, Illinois. After playing in this event, I knew I could actually compete at the highest level in the world. I now wanted to play golf as a profession.
Perspective on my rookie year on the LPGA: My rookie year seems like just yesterday. I was excited and nervous and had a whole lot of growing up to do. I aged 10 years my first year on tour. It was a lot to handle for me, because I had no idea what I was getting into. I did not know what to expect, everything was new, and I did not know one person on the LPGA. My friends from the mini tour did not get their tour cards. So I listened to whoever would talk to me. I got both good and bad advice. Like most rookies, I had to figure it out as I went along. I cried at least once a week. Towards the end of the year, I started getting the hang of things, and I became much more in touch with my needs. Therefore, I played a lot more like I was supposed to. During the last seven tournaments, I played the weekend five times. I went back to the tour qualifying school with confidence and regained exempt status for 1995.
If I wasn’t playing golf, I’d… I’m not sure what I’d do if I wasn’t playing golf. My real interest is in physical therapy, and I’ve got a true talent for customer service. My degree is in Finance, although I don’t know why.