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Lizzie Win is Back for More

By Shawn Fury

Five months after the COVID-19 pandemic ended Lizzie Win’s senior season as a star golfer at Seton Hall, she remembers the dreaded March day when she and her teammates received the news: “When we found out that we weren’t having the rest of the season, or our conference championship, that was one of the worst days of my life,” she says.

The crushing disappointment brought Win’s senior campaign to an end, but it didn’t finish off her college career, as the NCAA granted spring-sport athletes another year of eligibility. The day after she graduated from Seton Hall in May with a double major in marketing and information technology, Win began a master’s degree in marketing. She is hoping to play for the Pirates in spring 2021.

And while COVID-19 delayed Win’s pursuit of a career in professional golf, it also didn’t ruin that dream. When she’s done at Seton Hall, Win will seek a spot on the LPGA through its Q-School, where players battle for a tour card.

“It’s actually going to be a big help,” Win says of another year of preparation. “I’m working with a new swing coach, who I wouldn’t have had before. … And I’m going to have all this time to myself, to go out, practice, do what I love and be able to do it on my own time while dealing with the schoolwork as well.”

Win spent the summer at home in Sylvania, Ohio, where she first learned the game from her dad, Tom. The two teamed up in father-daughter tournaments in her younger days, and he’s caddied for her. While her dad helped her with golf’s finer aspects, Win says she never obsessed over technical details. “When I see something, I’ll replicate it. I caught on to that learning style quickly, which helps in golf because you can sit at home, watch it on TV and it makes you want to go to the course and replicate what you’ve seen.”

Beyond that, “My dad’s pretty level-headed, pretty calm. I think I’ve inherited that trait. I try not to let things bother me because in golf if you make one mistake and dwell on it too long, it’s going to affect how you play the rest of the day. Sometimes it’s hard to move on but you have to do it if you want to grow as a player and if you want to grow as a person.”

Seton Hall women’s golf coach Natalie Desjardins watched that maturation. She calls Win a “grinder and a fighter. She’s self-motivated. I never worry about her not doing what she’s supposed to be doing to get better.” Among Win’s accomplishments: winning the individual title in difficult weather at the Lady Blue Hen Invitational in Delaware; collecting the first hole-in-one for any Pirate in tournament action with an ace at the Nittany Lion Invitational in 2018; and having a 75.87 career scoring average, the best four-year mark in school history.

Win also already has valuable LPGA Tour experience. Twice in her hometown she played in the Marathon Classic, a tournament her family’s very familiar with — for more than a decade the Wins have hosted LPGA standout Brittany Lincicome when she competes in Ohio. For Win, “getting to play in the event with someone that I looked up to, and now being able to play at her level, was awesome and very eye-opening.”

When it comes to a pro career, Desjardins talks with Win about her own experiences from a decade ago, when the Pirate coach played on the smaller tours. “She has a great network of people, but the advice I gave her is that you really are alone,” Desjardins says. “There’s no contract at the end of the day. You have to prove yourself. You qualify, you play in those tournaments and then slowly but surely, hopefully, you climb up that leaderboard where people do recognize you and you’re able to get those small sponsorships that turn a little bigger, then a little bit bigger.”

Win accepts those challenges, especially after an unprecedented spring when a pandemic altered everything yet did nothing to deter her from her LPGA goals. “I really think that if I didn’t try it, I would regret it and wish I would have gone for it.”

Shawn Fury is an author in New York City.

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