By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Participating in a major event is nothing new for fifth-year senior Gurleen Kaur who is no stranger to the spotlight. Adding to the list, Kaur received an invitation to compete in an event on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour – the Chevron Championship, beginning Thursday at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. – with three other amateurs.
Head coach Jay Goble is more than thrilled to have his veteran in an event like this. He said it shows the skillset she possesses.
“There are only four amateurs in the field, and she got an invite. That just proves how great she is and how accomplished of a player she is,” Goble said. “We’re excited to be out here and watch her play this week.”
The future pro golfer has been a part of the prestigious Augusta National Amateur tournament, which is one of her favorites. She had to make a decision between Augusta or the Chevron championship and ultimately went with the latter.
“It was hard because playing the Augusta National Women’s Amateur is so cool,” Kaur said. “The opportunity to go back to Augusta National will probably never happen again. That was definitely a sad part because getting to play there, it’s just amazing. But I feel good, feel honored to be here.”
Being at an event like this allowed Kaur to get some practice rounds with some of the best golfers in the world — Stacy Lewis, Pernilla Lindberg and Brittany Lincicome, all past winners of the formerly named INA Inspiration, to name a few. She also played nine holes with global No. 1 Jin Young Ko.
“She [Jin Young] was super cool and it was nice to learn from her,” Kaur said. She and her caddy both gave me tips on the golf course because they’ve been here multiple times. So I feel like you can’t get that anywhere else. Just having those practice sessions and seeing what the professionals do has been a learning experience also.”
That experience alone is invaluable to Goble who is thankful Kaur had the opportunity to spend time around pros she will soon compete against.
“I think she would tell you she learned a lifetime worth of information in that one week,” Goble said. “She wanted to have that experience again of playing with pros and playing on a huge stage and playing on, honestly, the biggest stage you can play on.”
Both Goble and associate head coach Carly Ludwig are traveling with Kaur, with Ludwig accompanying as Kaur’s caddy. Having a familiar presence to go along with Ludwig’s experience at the course is huge for Kaur.
“She’s caddied for me in plenty of tournaments before so it’s good [and] familiar. She knew the golf course before we came here. When she was at San Diego State, they had their conference meet here a couple times,” Kaur said. “She caddied for one of our former golfers, Elodie [Chapelet], at the first stage of [LPGA] qualifying school last year. Having her know the course, the experience, has definitely been helpful too.”
The Houston native also took part in the U.S Women’s Open in June of 2021. She said having that experience helps in terms of feeling more grounded among other high-caliber golfers.
“I think at the Open last year I was quite nervous in the practice rounds, especially because that was the first time I’d ever played with professionals,” Kaur said. “This year I feel more relaxed. I would say it’s just given me an opportunity to be more confident. I feel like I belong here more than last year. Now it’s like, ‘OK, I’m getting ready to move on to the next level.’”
Fired up and ready to go, Kaur is aiming to do well in order to make the cut next year, as she heard it may be relocated near her hometown.
“Rumor is that it’s going to be at Houston Oaks, which is only 20 minutes from my house,” Kaur said. “It’s also where we’re having the Big 12 [Championship] this year. That would be cool to play well here and then hopefully be able to qualify for it next year on a course that I’m very familiar with.”
While it’s an adjustment from collegiate competition, Kaur is amped to play well and get back with the group to continue the goals of a national championship.
“Yeah, it’s good … good and not the same, because the conditions here are nothing like I’m going to see in college golf,” Kaur sad. “But I could say it just gives me more confidence and more self-belief that I can finish the season strong.”
All four rounds of the Chevron Championship can be accessed via livestream on the Golf Channel on the NBC Sports App.