Then there is Morgan Pressel. Morgans course load in this, her final semester at St. Andrews, is much more strenuous than a normal high school. Lets see, she is sweating out basic English 12, marine biology, 20th century ideologies and conflicts, economics, digital darkroom. And ' oh yes ' world religion. A career as a marine biologist, perhaps? Possibly a future in some form of psychiatry? A lecturer, maybe? A language specialist?
Well, no, she isnt studying to be any of these. In fact, she isnt even planning on attending college. But when she graduates May 20, she will be the most famous graduate in the history of St. Andrews. She is, you see, a professional golfer at the young age of 17. And she has already earned $100,000 in just this year - $101,354, precisely, and the season isnt even in its fourth month. Who knows how long it will take her classmates to reach that kind of earning power?
Morgan is in Orlando this week preparing for the Ginn Open, her sixth LPGA tournament. In only one of them did she finish outside the top 20. She finished in a tie for fifth in her first event, tied for 11th in her second. Since then she hasnt done quite as well, finished in a tie for 60th, a tie for 13th, a tie for 16th. Though her money earned has her in the lofty position of No. 20 and her scoring average is 12th on the LPGA, her putting has hamstrung her a little. She is only the 76th best putter, and she knows that is going to have to improve.
Last weeks tournament was a good example. My putting was actually pretty atrocious, she said. And I tried out a new putter last week and that was snapped over my knee - not really, but I wanted to throw it in the garbage, and my grandpa said it (the putting) had been OK. But I'm never using it again.
Grandpa is Herb Krickstein, who with his wife follows Morgan around on tour. Remember, she cant do too much besides win money. She is a long way from being able to rent a car, she cant rent a hotel room by herself. But she COULD look at the gigantic pictures of a few select contestants plastered beside the avenue when she pulled up the street to the Reunion golf course here.
There was, of course, Annika Sorenstam. And Cristi Kerr. And Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster, Lorena Ochoa and Beth Daniel.
And ' there she was, the pride of St. Andrews, Morgan Pressel!
She took a question about the giant picture with jocularity. A reporter was stumbling around in the press room wondering how she felt with the great players all represented ' along with herself.
She allowed herself to laugh a little. And me ' it doesnt fit. Is that what youre saying?
After the group of listeners enjoyed a good chuckle, she addressed the query. It was a great ego boost, especially to a girl who is still in the 12th grade.
That was really cool, she said. When we were driving in, there are all these great players - Annika, Cristie, Juli, Beth, Lorena - and then there's a picture of me. You know, it is quite an honor for them to put me up there, definitely. That was very neat.
She is incredibly grown-up when it comes to performing before the media. Examples:
She was speaking of her start in the game and mentioned that she first played at the invitation of her grandfather ' who, incidentally, is the father of a former professional tennis player, Aaron Krickstein. She herself started as a tennis player, but switched to golf because he (Herb) says that it was because I was too slow for tennis, Morgan said, again to much laughter. So it just started there - just put the racquet down and now I'm playing golf.
And, will she be attending her high school prom in May, on the arm of one of one of St. Andrews lucky young beaus? There is a prom, she sighed, but I'm not going to that. I'm going to be in Kingsmill for the Michelob Ultra Open.
Then she added this humorous afterthought: I went to the prom last year. It's overrated.
But she definitely will be there for her graduation ceremonies ' shes put in 12 years of work toward that degree, and the marine biology and the 20th century ideologies and conflicts and all the other courses that she has excelled in over the years ' there is no way she is going to miss out on saying goodbye to all of them. Even if she will never again have to crack a textbook to make a very good living.
Morgan, incidentally, is allowed by her teachers to take her work on the road to golf tournaments. And, she also is allowed to take several tests from long-distance.
We have a pretty strict honor code at St. Andrews, she said. A couple of teachers have, you know, said, Here is the test, study, and put it in an envelope or put it in the back of a binder. Study, and when you're ready - it's an hour and a half, take it on your time and your honor.
As of May 20, the main thing she will have to study is the money earnings. That she has already begun.
I think I know where I am, 15th or something like that (actually, 20th, but who quibbles over a position or two or five). Yeah, I look at all that, I look at all the stats and position, she said.
It's interesting to me. I can't calculate it myself. I have to wait to see them updating on Monday mornings. I can't calculate that myself. I don't even know the distribution of points or anything like that. It's an interesting concept, so we'll see.
Well also see what the future holds for this graduate of the class of 06. Others may hold more prestigious positions, but few will match her bank account. And none her fame.
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