Michelle McGann set to compete in her first U.S. Senior Women's Open
Michelle McGann is looking to come full circle. The 51-year-old LPGA Tour star won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at age 18 in 1987, and next week, she’ll tee it up in her first U.S. Senior Women’s Open, one of two major championships on The LPGA Legends Tour. The U.S. Senior Women’s Open is set for July 29 – August 1 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn. “Winning the U.S. Girls’ Junior was definitely the pinnacle of my junior golf career,” recalls McGann, who joined the LPGA Tour straight out of high school and was one of the Tour’s longest hitters for the bulk of her career. As an amateur, McGann won the Florida State Girls’ Junior three times and was the AGJA Rolex Junior Player of the Year. “I had won a few other junior events at that point, but the USGA event was of course THE tournament to win in Junior golf,” adds McGann. “I remember thinking during the matches leading up to the final that my mom was flying in to watch, and there’s no way I was going to end it before she got there,” says McGann. When it came time for the final match, McGann won convincingly, 7 and 5, leaving no doubt that her mother made the right choice. “All USGA champions win a small solid gold medal,” notes McGann, “and my mom made a necklace out of mine that I often wear for luck. It’s pretty heavy, so I don’t think I’ll wear it while playing the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, but I will definitely have it with me.” McGann has played in numerous U.S. Women’s Open championships but never found the winner’s circle; her best finish was T6 in 1992, but her closest call actually came in 1993 at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, IN.
“I had the lead at Crooked Stick after two days,” remembers McGann, whose 48th U.S. Women’s Open scorecard included a record-low-at-the-time round of 66 on the second day, giving her a two-shot lead. “Early into the third round, I had an insulin reaction and became so disoriented, my Dad said I didn’t even know were I was. Needless to say, I lost ground there for several holes, and even though I worked hard to recover, I just couldn’t get enough back. I remember making an eagle on 9, but that was pretty much the highlight. It was rough.” McGann, who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 13, posted a 78 that day, but battled back with a final round 71 to finish T7. “It was a great opportunity, you know, to win the U.S. Women’s Open, something we all dream about,” says McGann, “but it was also a hard learning experience. So much has changed since then in terms of how I manage my diabetes on the course, and there have been many advancements in technology that have also helped, but it will always be very much a part of how I prepare for and how I play golf.” In anticipation of her inaugural appearance in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn’s notoriously “hilly” track, McGann, a West Palm Beach native, recently traveled to Maine to routinely walk and play hillier terrain. “Florida is flat,” says McGann, “and the grass is different. And the conditions will be very tough at Brooklawn. It’s going to be four days of grinding, and I need to find the balance in my food intake, my snacks, my physical endurance, my focus – you need it all to be strong.” McGann also had shoulder surgery last November, but says she is now pain-free and swinging with confidence. While disappointed it took the USGA so long to add a senior women’s open – the first was played in 2018 - McGann is grateful for the opportunity to tee it up in another national championship, to compete at the highest level once again. “Being a U.S. Girls’ champion is something I think I appreciate a lot more now than I did back then,” says McGann. “I realize that I’m on a short list of women who have won that event. I’m one of few who can say I have that U.S. Girls’ Junior gold medal.” It will be an uphill battle at Brooklawn at the end of this month, literally and figuratively, but McGann is ready to play, not only for herself but for her many followers who struggle daily with Type I diabetes. “You have to put yourself in the moment,” says McGann, “I’ve got this chance now, so let’s make it happen. Keep the ball in play, keep it below the hole, and make some putts. I’d sure like to have another necklace.” McGann’s Top Tip for Amateurs: It’s all about grip pressure. I see so many amateur golfers start out with a grip that’s way too tight. If you start out tight, it’s only going to get tighter when you’re under pressure to hit a shot. And then you’re whole body is going to get tighter. That’s not good! To remind yourself to loosen up that grip, imagine you’re holding an open tube of toothpaste inside your grip and if you squeeze it too hard as you swing, you’re going to get toothpaste everywhere. Keep the toothpaste in the tube and lighten up that grip. Think you’re not good enough to play in a pro-am? “Get over it,” says McGann. “There will always be somebody out there worse than you. Get out there and enjoy the experience. Jump on that invitation – you might not get asked again. Most pro-ams are scramble format, and there’s nothing easier or more fun than that.” You can follow Michelle McGann on Facebook and Twitter. For tickets and more information about the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, visit USGA.org.
Shared from Fore! Fridays, a weekly e-pub of stories and conversation starters designed to help you look good, play better and know more when it comes to golf.