Tim Widing found himself asking many questions these past few months.
Is my college golf career over?
Will I return to school for a graduate year?
What are the chances that college golf happens this fall?
The answers have varied. No, the University of San Francisco standout has not hit his last shot as a Don. Yes, he’ll return to school for an extra year and pursue a graduate degree in sports management. And as for the upcoming season, that’s still to be determined.
Yet, there was only one answer Widing truly cared about. Hint: She said yes!
Widing, a 23-year-old native of Jonkoping, Sweden, got engaged to girlfriend Jazmine Kelleher in early May on a beach in Cambria, California, Kelleher’s hometown where Widing has lived with his now-fiancée and future in-laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I felt like in these unknown and uncertain times, this was the one thing I was very sure about,” Widing said. “I’m very happy.”
Widing and Kelleher first met in 2017 during Widing’s sophomore year, Kelleher’s freshman year. On their first date, they went for an early-morning run. For 16 miles, they ran and jogged, walked and talked.
Kelleher was into fitness, especially running. Widing? Not so much, but he wanted to impress, so he fought to keep pace.
“We were out for five or six hours, and I kept asking her, ‘When are we going to eat, drink?’ Widing recalled.
Later that evening, Widing began experiencing stomach pains. He spent the next four days in and out of the hospital, doctors eventually diagnosing him with severe dehydration.
It was worth it, though: Widing got a second date.
“For a while after that, my teammates and coaches, when they would see her, they’d be like, ‘Oh, you’re the one that put him in the hospital,’” Widing said.
Added San Francisco head coach Jack Kennedy: “Now, when Tim says he and Jazmine are going running, we tell him he has a two-mile cap.”
Jokes aside, Kennedy has seen love transform his star player.
He’s eating healthier. Widing has traded sweets for balanced, home-cooked meals and a mainly plant-based diet. He’s noticed better sleep patterns and improved energy.
He’s working out more. So much so that Kennedy usually has to call an Uber for Widing after tournament rounds so that he can go back to the hotel and lift weights while his teammates stay back and cool down.
He’s calmer. When Widing arrived in the Bay Area, he was known to run hot, and coaches had a tough time curbing his ultra-aggressive style of play.
“They start dating and all of sudden he was talking about playing to the safe side of pins,” Kennedy said. “Just his whole mentality, she kind of softened him up a little bit.”
No wonder Widing and Kelleher are often referred to as “Team Tim.”
“We do everything together. We’re one team and I’m very lucky to have someone who’s that supportive of me,” said Widing, who has shared a small studio apartment with Kelleher for almost two years. Kelleher also serves as Widing’s caddie in amateur events, keeps him on top of his studies and calls herself his biggest cheerleader.
She’s had plenty to cheer for, too. In four years, Widing has never been left off the All-West Coast Conference first team, and last season he was named an All-America honorable mention. He owns 19 top-10s in his college career, including two wins and a T-3 finish at the 2019 NCAA Pullman Regional, where he finished one stroke shy of qualifying for the NCAA Championship.
“Missing by a shot, that really fueled his fire to this [past] year,” Kennedy said.
Widing, currently ranked 60th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, posted a pair of third-place finishes as a senior while also winning his final tournament before the season was canceled. At that event at San Diego Country Club, Widing topped a field that included BYU’s Peter Kuest, Arizona State’s Cameron Sisk and Arizona’s Trevor Werbylo.
Afterward, Kennedy told Widing: “You just beat 10 guys who are probably going to be playing on the PGA Tour in the next five years.”
Widing has aspirations to join them. While he’s made a handful of starts on the European and Challenge tours as an amateur, Widing wishes to begin his pro career in the U.S. He had entered Mackenzie Tour Q-School earlier this year before that was scrubbed.
Now, he’s turned his focus toward another path to a tour card: PGA Tour University.
Widing, who will begin his fifth season at No. 14 in the PGA Tour U rankings, knows his competition for one of those five Korn Ferry Tour cards – or 10 international-tour cards – will be stout, especially with so many top seniors opting to join Widing for another year in school. It’s a list of competitors that includes Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein, Baylor’s Cooper Dossey and Oklahoma teammates Garett Reband and Quade Cummins.
Kennedy firmly believes Widing belongs in the same breath as those guys.
“There’s no better iron player in the country than Tim; I’m very confident in saying that,” Kenneday said. “Pitching wedge through 3-iron, he’s a PGA Tour player. … We joke that every tournament for Tim is just a glorified putting contest. He’s going to get the ball within 10-20 feet [of the hole] 80% of time. It’s just a matter of how many putts he decides to make that week.”
Widing has spent many hours this summer on the practice greens at Dairy Creek and Monarch Dunes, both located in San Luis Obispo, about a half hour from Cambria. That is, when he hasn’t been wedding planning, taking his first two grad-school classes online or filming trick-shot videos in Kelleher’s parents’ backyard.
It’s all hard work that Widing hopes pays off handsomely.
“I feel like I definitely have a shot this year to get one of those cards,” Widing said. “I just need to not worry about the rankings too much because I’ve done that in the past with the world amateur rankings. I just need to show up to every tournament and play my best, try to win every event I play and see how far that takes me.”
A Korn Ferry card would be a pretty sweet wedding gift.