What do Caroline Hedwall, Linda Wessberg, Becky Morgan, Vikki Laing, Pernilla Lindberg and Lee-Anne Pace have in common?
They have all honed their skills playing amateur golf on the US collegiate circuit.
Caroline (135), who grabbed the sole lead on the second day of the Hero Women's Indian Open at the DLF Golf & Country Club on Saturday, claims her stint at the Oklahoma State University gave her the confidence to turn pro. “I went to the US to better my English, play on the American courses and improve my level of confidence," said the 22-year-old after carding a 68.
“The competition is so good on the collegiate circuit. Many of the players I played against are now on the Ladies Professional Golf Association or Ladies European Tour," added the 2010 National Collegiate Athletics Association individual champion.
Lee-Anne, who is tied seventh, studied psychology at the University of Tulsa. “It was a great experience. It helped me graduate to the Futures Tour and then turn pro," said the South African.
However, Indian pros have a different take on going to the US. Sharmila Nicollet, the money leader on the domestic tour, said, “I was offered a full scholarship to Perdue, Duke and Berkeley when I was 16. I chose not to go because I wanted to turn pro.
“Many girls have gone to the US but lost focus there. I knew what my aim was so then, why not turn pro earlier and get more experience," she remarked after just making the cut at 149.
Neha Tripathi echoed the view. “I'm playing better than many of the ones who have returned," stated the final year student of St Xavier's Kolkata.
Smriti Mehra (72, 77) had a different take. “Most of our girls don't have the courage to make it there," said the veteran, who is one of the five Indians to make the cut.
35: C. Hedwall (67, 69)
136: L. Wessberg (70, 66), P. Phatlum (67, 69)
135: B. Morgan (70, 69), V. Laing (69, 70)
135: P. Lindberg (66, 74)