Today, the dream will become a reality for Lauren Walsh who is set to make her LPGA Tour debut in her maiden tournament as a professional at the Dana Open. How the dream pans out is in her control.
After a glittering amateur career – particularly during a trophy-laden spell with Wake Forest University – Walsh feels she is ready to take the next step and she intends to relish everything that comes with her professional debut this week and embrace it.
“I’m so excited to get going this week, I’m sure I will be nervous on the first tee tomorrow,” said the Castlewarden woman who will have her sister Clodagh caddying for her having previously struck up a good partnership at the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.
“I have been building up to this moment for a lot of years so I am very excited to be finally getting started and I will have my sister Clodagh this week as my caddie so it will be nice to have that comfort alongside me. We have worked so well together in the past so it will be nice to lean on that support this week.”
Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow have become mainstays on the LPGA Tour while Olivia Mehaffey looks to be on the right track on the LET. After impressive performances by Sara Byrne and Anna Foster on the recent LET Access Series and Aine Donegan’s fantastic US Women’s Open showing last week the next crop of players are starting to rise to the surface and Walsh was inspired by her former Irish international teammate at Pebble Beach.
“Aine’s performance at Pebble last week was definitely an inspiration, she did the whole of Ireland proud and I was glued to the scoring all week following her along. It was amazing to see how well she did and she has really shown that all of us girls from Ireland can go and do it. It was an inspiring performance for not just myself but all girls in Ireland trying to get into the game,” said the 22-year-old.
Walsh harbours dreams of major championships and Solheim Cups as well as joining Maguire and Meadow on the LPGA Tour sooner rather than later – with Q-School fast approaching. A PING player all her life and also coached by Shane O’Grady in Blackbush, she wouldn’t look out of place alongside Maguire on the big stage.
“Starting out in the pro ranks this week I’m just looking to gain some experience. I’m happy with where my game is at and try perform to the best of my ability and see where that leaves me at the end of the week. I have no expectations I just want to gain some experience and enjoy this time because I have been building towards this for a long time. Stephanie is here this week and herself and Leona have done so well over the last few weeks and Olivia had a great finish in Finland too. Hopefully I can join them out here full time next year, looking forward to continue to represent Ireland across the world wherever I compete.
“I know for sure the rest of my family, my friends and the whole country is behind me back home and you know I’ve got a lot of text messages wishing me well.”