US Women’s Open: juggling a professional golfing career as a mom
Twenty years ago, that’s exactly what amateur Brenda Corrie-Kuehn – eight months pregnant – did at the US Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club alongside her playing partner Jennifer Greggain, who was in her second trimester.
Still, the mother-of-three ended up with a birdie and challenged her obstetrician-gynecologist, who thought she was too close to her due date to be on a golf course in the 80-degree heat.
“I said to him, ‘On my corpse.’ I qualified for it, I worked hard to make it happen, I’m going to play, “Corrie-Kuehn told CNN Sport.
A week later, her daughter Rachel was born and her 56-year-old mother will have inspired others to carry on living while your belly and your doctors tell you no.
“It wasn’t pretty. I don’t remember what I did, but there is a point near the end of your pregnancy where you get fat really fast,” the US Open veteran told nine times.
“I think it happened between the time of qualifying for the Open and the event itself, and it’s hard to pull the hips with the extra weight, so my swing changed and I didn’t couldn’t hit it very far, but I was happy to be there.
“A lot of people have asked me, ‘How can you play this way? What I was trying to show is that it’s part of life. I had physical restrictions and after the US Open I played in a cart at home before Rachel was born.
“What I was trying to show is just because you’re pregnant, and unless you have a health problem, you can do the same things you did before you got pregnant and after giving birth. It was my message. “
With such golf genes – Corrie-Kuehn’s mother was a Venezuelan national champion, as was her father – it’s no wonder Rachel followed in her mother’s footsteps to famous Wake Forest University in Carolina. North, where she also excels at golf, narrowly missing the Augusta Women’s National Amateur Final in Augusta earlier this year.
She has the most ardent supporter of her mother, whose advice to any pregnant golfer is to watch how much time you spend training on the greens.
“It affected my distance a lot. Imagine having a 30 pound ball in front of you and trying to pull on your hips, you would lose your balance. So my swing got very stiff and rhythmic.
“But there’s no reason the short game can’t be good, even if you can’t sit and practice for a long time because your back is killing you.”
Three-time major champion Nancy Lopez has three daughters and won events while pregnant in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 2003, the French Patricia Meunier-Lebouc competed in the Solheim Cup when she was four months pregnant, following the good advice of Carin Koch, the Swede having played in the 2002 competition at 12 weeks.
In 2005 Laura Diaz and Iben Tinning met in the biennial pageant, American Diaz six months pregnant and Dane Tinning 16 weeks.
In the world of long drive championships, Lisa ‘Longball’ Vlooswyk became the first competitor on the field to shed her extra weight in the game’s biggest workouts.
In turn, she inspired five-time world champion Sandra Carlborg of Sweden, who hammered over 300 yards in the 2019 tournament when she was 24 weeks pregnant with her daughter Ebba.
“We had a medical tent because it was very hot that day, the doctor was chilling me with ice between sets,” Carlborg told CNN.
“I felt safe and he said, ‘As long as you feel good, you’re fine.’ I promised him that if I felt uncomfortable I would stop competing, “said the 37-year-old, who hit 80 balls at full power that day and whose longest haul is 401 meters, five less than the world record.
Now expecting her second daughter, due in September, Carlborg used Covid-19 lockdowns to launch a podcast called PowerMamas in Sweden to help empower new mothers.
“I’m getting weaker and weaker so I’m really looking forward to coming back as a strong athlete for next year. My goal is to be my strongest – stronger than I’ve ever been and to swing it faster than I ever had.
“A lot of people say women are stronger after being a mom.”
Carlborg gets some of her positive outlook from how her godparents initially took the news that she was going to have her first baby.
“It’s a big difference these days. I was very nervous when I told my sponsors I was pregnant with Ebba, wondering what they were going to say, but I think it was. a big change in recent years, in all sports.
“I’m glad we didn’t live like 10-15 years ago, people always said, ‘When you have kids you’re out of your sport.’ I hope more women think that having children won’t stop them from being top athletes. “
Former British rower Baz Moffat founded Well HQ earlier in 2021 with two doctors – one of whom, Dr Emma Ross, wrote a chapter on women and pregnancy in golf as part of a book on the health of female athletes.
“Pregnancy and postpartum recovery in sports is a really, really new thing. Brenda is really unique,” Moffat told CNN.
“It’s really only since Serena Williams in 2014 that this has become more important, in terms of more women sandwiching kids in their careers – instead of just pushing their careers to the point where they want to have kids. children and that being the main reason they withdraw from the sport. “
Moffat, mother of two, who trained with the British Olympic team between 2004-08, said the change had been huge since her time as an elite athlete after the Beijing Games .
“I don’t think there were moms in international sport back then. A few people tried to leave, have kids and come back, in a four-year cycle, but the systems of support weren’t there.
“If the main reason women give up their sport early is to have children, how can we support them through it? It’s not perfect now, but there are examples of women who do. are doing fantastically. “
Even one day, a little birdie the next day
Returning to Wake Forest University, Kuehn’s teammate Emilia Migliaccio is the star of American amateur golf after making the playoffs in Augusta but lost to 17-year-old Japanese star Tsubasa Kajitani.
Like Kuehn, his mother was also a brilliant talent. Ulrika Migliaccio represented the University of Arizona and also played alongside fellow Swedish and 10-time winner Annika Sorenstam.
So when Ulrika donned the famous white Augusta jumpsuit for her daughter’s caddy in April, Emilia burst into pride as she thought back to her mother as a golfer, including playing the game while pregnant.
“I think my mom’s day before she played a round of golf and even shot through,” the 22-year-old told CNN, a huge smile on her face.
“She was playing with two men who were looking at each other and like, ‘Really? Are we playing this pregnant woman?’ Then she tore it up completely! “
Migliaccio grew up aspiring to play sports professionally, rubbed shoulders at team events with Patty Tavatanakit, Collin Morikawa, Jennifer Kupcho and Viktor Hovland and is playing the game at a level most people can only dream of.
Still, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps by not joining the professional ranks.
“She didn’t really like living in a suitcase and decided the career path wouldn’t be for her. When I questioned my career path, my mom shared her experience and she gave me a lot of advice.”
Like Ulrika Migliaccio that day on the course, Carlborg also has a lesson for some male golfers.
“In 2019, when I was 30 weeks pregnant, I was telling guys at an event not to complain about their big bellies, they don’t stop you from going far!
“So I hope I can inspire a lot of people to get pregnant.”