Last time the Women’s Australian Open was held in Adelaide, professional golfer Stephanie Na was only five years old.
Another five years on she was starting to hit golf balls at the Grange Golf Club.
Now the Adelaide player can’t believe she will compete in the Australian Open on the 18-holes she grew up on at Grange.
“I can’t say I ever thought I’d have the opportunity to play an Australian Open in my backyard,” Na said.
“It’s huge, the Australian Open means a lot to me.”
In February however Grange Golf Club will host the tournament at its West course, the fairways which Na has known for 16 years and the local knowledge could work in her favour.
“Hopefully there would be a few bits and pieces that I may know, that won’t necessarily stand out in just a couple of practice rounds.” Na explained.
Na was first introduced to golf by her Dad, Jung II.
Jung II is a Grand Master in Martial Arts and also a talented golfer and she will be forever thankful for his support towards her golfing success.
“He has been there since day one,” she said.
“He’s taught me everything I know and knows my golf inside out, maybe even better than I do at times.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today, nor would I have achieved anything I have achieved, without him. I’ll be forever grateful to him for his continued support with my golf.”
Sport was not the only thing Na excelled at though her school days.
She recorded an incredible Tertiary Entrance Rank score of 91.45 at St Dominics Priory College and she was also a talented gymnast, winning a State Championship in levels 6-10 then going on to compete at the National Championships for several years.
“My first preference in sport was actually gymnastics, artistic gymnastics to be specific, the real gymnastics – I like to call it,” she explains.
“I was a gymnast from the age six to fourteen so I was quite a sporty child.
“I loved P.E at school, and would always participate in whatever I could.
“I enjoyed athletics and netball growing up.”
But Golf soon took over as the most popular choice and Na’s family are all keen golfer.
“My entire family (which include two older brothers, my mum and dad) can play,” she says.
“But my dad, middle brother Andre and myself are the regular ones.”
Na says a round can get competitive when she takes on her brother and dad, with Na often letting her brother know if she out drives him on a hole.
, Brother Andre and I tee it up together when I’m home,” Na continues.
“They are my favourite playing partners and I really enjoy playing with them.
“My Dad can be sneaky good and Andre because he hits it so good and there is always something on the line, of course!”
Na says she thoroughly enjoys being a professional golfer.
“I think the job in itself - just being able to play golf - (a game you love) all around the world,” Na said.
“The places you travel to, all the different people you meet, having the opportunity to do and see cool things throughout your travels.”
Na has been fortunate enough to play alongside players Karrie Webb and Julie Inkster during practice rounds and also tournament rounds with Laura Davies and Stacey Lewis.
In 2007 and 2008 she was the top ranked female Australian Amateur and Golf Digest Amateur player of the year in 2008.
She came 3rd in 2014 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open (Ladies European Tour) and third in the 2011 NSW Women's Open just to name a few.
Na believes the Australian Open event in February will attract the best players from the LPGA as they compete for the lucrative $US$1.2million in prizemoney.
She says we should keep an eye on any one of the LPGA players to make their mark on the Open.
“I would say the players from the LPGA,” she said.
“Obviously they are the best players in the world and are always going to be fighting for that number one spot.”
Na has played on some of the world’s most prestigious courses throughout the world and believes her career highlight of her young professional career is still to come as she continues to strive for her goal of being competitive on the LPGA Tour.
“I think I’m yet to have my career highlight,” she continues.
“I’ve had some great weeks and have been close to winning a few times but I’d say the most satisfying event would have been when I got through the qualifying event to get my Ladies European Tour card in 2012.
“The LPGA Tour is the most highly recognised, most lucrative women’s golf tour in the world where the best players in the world compete every week.
“My ultimate goal is to be competitive on the LPGA Tour.”
Image - Peter Argent - Copyright - Our Sporting Life SA