Amanda Blumenherst was emotionally torn for so much of this season.
The 2008 U.S. Amateur champ, a fourth-year LPGA pro, loves golf. It has been such a vital part of her life, but she’s going to give it up. She began telling friends on tour at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., this week that she is going to walk away from the game at season’s end.
That’s because she loves the first baseman for the Oakland A’s more than she loves golf.
That first baseman would be Nate Freiman, her husband. They married on Dec. 29 of last year, but they’ve been apart more than they’ve been together these past eight months. That’s become too much for Blumenherst.
As professional athletes, Blumenherst and Freiman are away from each other more than they are together. They’re on the road so often, sometimes on different continents. Blumenherst told GolfChannel.com late Wednesday that she has struggled with the time apart for a couple months, and she decided last week that this was going to be her last season playing the LPGA.
“I don’t want to say I’m retiring, because you never know what will happen,” Blumenherst said. “Maybe I’ll decide in a couple years to come back, and this will just be a little break, you never know.”
It sounds like more than a break, though. Blumenherst, 26, would like to start a family. She said this season has been tough.
“I started noticing that my heart was no longer in it,” Blumenherst said. “I was just going through the motions in practice. I want to be with Nate.”
They met as freshmen at Duke. When they were seniors, Freiman was the school’s male athlete of the year, Blumenherst the female athlete of the year.
“This was a tough decision, because golf has been such a huge part of my life for the last 20 years, but Nate and I have talked about it and prayed about it,” Blumenherst said. “I definitely know it’s the right decision for me, this new chapter of our lives.”
Blumenherst said the separation from her husband really got to her in April, when she was committed to play in the North Texas Shootout outside Dallas. Nate and the A’s were playing the Red Sox at Fenway Park in a four-game series that week so Blumenherst flew to Boston to see the games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. She didn’t play a practice round for the Texas event and then barely got back to Dallas in time for her first-round tee time on Thursday afternoon, with flight delays slowing her return.
“Nate grew up in Boston, so it was a bucket-list deal for him, to play at Fenway,” Blumenherst said. “It was crushing for me to leave him, but it wasn’t really one moment that led to my decision.
“The LPGA is an amazing place. I love being a part of the tour, and I love the people. It’s not that I’ve lost my love for golf, but with this new chapter in my life, I want to be a part of that. I want to be with Nate, and, hopefully, down the road, I want us to have a family. I wouldn’t want to split my time away from family, our children.”
What’s Nate think?
“He’s an athlete, and he knows what it takes to be dedicated to your sport,” Blumenherst said. “He was never going to ask me to stop playing, but when I told him I was ready to be done, that this was going to be my last year, he was so happy.”
Blumenherst is currently eligible for the Evian Championship next month in France, the year’s last major. She hopes to play in that. She also hopes to play an event or two on sponsor invites on the LPGA’s Asian swing this fall, and she wants to play in the CME Group Titleholders as her “last” event.
The CME Group Titleholders is in November, after the World Series.
“Nate would be able to caddie for me there,” Blumenherst said.
That would be the perfect ending – if it really is the end to Blumenherst’s LPGA career – to play a last event with her husband beside her.