Age: 21 Current Residence: Windsor, Ontario Home Course: Dearborn Country Club, Essex Country Club College: Oakland University Profession: Professional Golfer
Natalia Ghilzon will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow Windsor native David Byrne when she tees it up onBig Break Atlantis. One of her best friends growing up, Byrne wonBig Break Indian Wellsin 2011 and is realizing his dream of playing on the PGA TOUR by competing in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans as a result of winning the series.
“I was so proud of David when he wonBig Break,” recalled Ghilzon. “He is such a hard worker and is always positive, even when things weren’t always going his way. He truly started his life and golf career when he wonBig Break, and I want to do the same.”
It was Byrne who suggested Ghilzon audition for the series. The two grew up playing tournaments together and constantly pushed each other to be the best they can be.
Ghilzon was introduced to golf by her father, first picking up a golf club when she was 3-years old. A natural athlete, in addition to golf, she played a number of sports growing up, including basketball, volleyball, track and soccer. At age 11, she started competing in golf tournaments, defeating girls who were three and four years older.
“Ever since I started being competitive at golf, I wanted this to be my career,” she said.
Fast forward to 2009. Ghilzon had just finished her first year at Oakland University in Michigan. In July of that year, she started suffering pain in her left wrist. Determined to play through the pain, she continued to compete in tournaments, but her scores were telling her something was wrong.
After months of X-rays, she discovered she was missing some bone in her left wrist.
“I was devastated, and thought it was the end of my golf career.”
Surgery was the only option to relieve the pain so she could resume to resume her career. She underwent surgery in September 2009, and withdrew from Oakland University to rehabilitate. In what was the most difficult time in her life, she now looks back on it as a blessing. During that time, she discovered patience.
“I have never been one to be patient with anything, but I knew I needed to be when it came to my wrist,” said Ghilzon. “When I was able to resume practicing, I felt like I had a clean slate and was starting fresh. That was a great feeling.”
In 2011, Ghilzon resumed competitive golf for the first time in nearly two years. She played a limited schedule, continuing to practice and undergoing physical therapy. While she wasn’t particularly happy with her results, she loved being back on the course.
“Those two years were a very difficult time for me, both emotionally and physically,” explained Ghilzon. “That is all in the past. This year is a new beginning for me, and it all started in December when I got the call that I was going to be onBig Break. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”