US Women’s Open: Juggling a professional golf career when you are a mom
Twenty years ago, that’s exactly what eight-month pregnant amateur Brenda Corrie-Kuehn did at the US Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club alongside playmate Jennifer Greggain, who was in her second quarter.
Yet the mother-of-three ended up with a baby bird and challenged her obstetrician-gynecologist, who thought she was too close to her due date to be on an 80-degree golf course.
“I told her: ‘On my corpse.’ I qualified for it, I worked hard to get there, I will play, “Corrie-Kuehn told CNN Sport.
A week later, daughter Rachel was born, and her 56-year-old mother will have inspired others to go on living when your tummy and your doctors tell you no.
“It wasn’t cool. I don’t remember what I did, but there’s a point towards the end of the pregnancy where you get big very quickly,” said the nine-time US Open veteran.
“I think it happened between the time of qualifying for the Open and the event itself, and it’s hard to shoot in the flanks with the added weight, so my swing changed and I couldn’t hit it very far. But I was happy. to be there.
“Many people have asked me, ‘How could you have sounded like that?’ What I was trying to show is that it is part of life that I have had some physical restrictions and after the US Open I played in a cart at home before Rachel was born.
“What I was trying to show was just because you are pregnant and, unless you have a medical condition, you can do the same things you did before you were pregnant and after giving birth. That was my message.”
With such golf geniuses – Corrie-Kuehn’s mother was a Venezuelan national champion and her father too – it’s no wonder Rachel followed in her mother’s footsteps to the renowned Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she excels. even in golf, getting lost by a whisker. her on the Augusta Women’s Amateur Finale in Augusta earlier this year.
He has the strongest advocate in his mother, whose advice to any pregnant golfer is to look at how much time you spend training on the green.
“It affected my distance a lot. Imagine having a 30lb ball in front of you and trying to shoot with your hips, you would have lost your balance. So my swing became very army and rhythmic.
“But there’s no reason short play isn’t good, even if you can’t sit and practice putting long because your back kills you.”
Three-time senior champion Nancy Lopez has three daughters and won events during pregnancy in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 2003, Frenchwoman Patricia Meunier-Lebouc played the Solheim Cup four months pregnant, following some practical advice from Carin Koch, the Swede who had played the 2002 competition at 12 weeks.
In 2005, Laura Diaz and Iben Tinning met in the biennial contest, six months pregnant American Diaz and 16 weeks pregnant Dane Tinning.
In the world of long drive championships, Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk became the first competitor on the field to give her added weight to the game’s biggest drives.
In turn, it inspired five-time world champion Sandra Carlborg from Sweden, who was punching over 300 yard drives 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 cooling me with ice between sets,” Carlborg told CNN.
“I felt safe and he said, ‘As long as you feel good, that’s fine.’ I promised him that if I felt uncomfortable, I would stop competing, ”said the 37-year-old, who hit 80 balls at full speed that day and whose longest drive is 401 yards, five short of the world record.
Now expecting her second daughter, scheduled for September, Carlborg used the Covid-19 lockdown to start a podcast called PowerMamas in Sweden to help new mothers.
“I’m getting weaker and weaker, so I can’t wait to get back as a strong athlete next year. My goal is to be stronger than myself, stronger than I’ve ever been and swing it more. faster than I ever had.
“Many people say that women are stronger after they become mothers.”
Carlborg gets some of his positive outlook from the way his sponsors initially took the news that he was about to have his first child.
“Nowadays it’s a big difference. I was very nervous when I told my sponsors that I was pregnant with Ebba, wondering what they would say, but I think in the last few years it has been a big change, in all sports.
“I’m glad we live not 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 a top-level athlete. “
Former British rower Baz Moffat founded Well’s headquarters in early 2021 with two doctors, one of whom, Dr Emma Ross, wrote a chapter on women and pregnancies in golf as part of a health book. of a female athlete.
“Pregnancy and postnatal recovery in sports are a really, really new thing. Brenda is a truly unique piece,” Moffat told CNN.
“It’s only since Serena Williams in 2014 that this has become more of a thing, in terms of more women fitting into children throughout their careers, instead of just pushing their careers to the point where they want to have children and that being. the number one reason they retire from sport. “
Moffat, a mother of two who trained with Britain’s Olympic team between 2004 and 2008, said the change was huge compared to her days as an elite athlete after the Beijing Games.
“I think there were no mothers in the world of international sport at the time. Some people tried to leave, have children and come back again, over a four-year cycle, but the support systems were not there.
“If the main reason women leave their sport early is to have children, how can we support them through all of this? It’s not perfect now, but there are examples of women doing it in a fantastic way.”
Even for one day, a little bird the next
Back at Wake Forest University, Kuehn’s teammate Emilia Migliaccio talks about American amateur golf after reaching the playoffs in Augusta but losing to an equal clutch from 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 Swedish colleague and 10-time major winner Annika Sorenstam.
So when Ulrika wore the famous Augusta white jumpsuit as a caddy for her daughter in April, Emilia gushed with pride as she thought of her mother as a golfer, not least of playing pregnant.
“I think the day before my mom caught me, she played a round of golf and pulled even,” the 22-year-old told CNN, with a huge smile blooming on her face.
“She was playing with two men who looked at each other and said, ‘Really? Are we playing this pregnant woman?’ Then she completely ripped it off! “
Migliaccio grew up aspiring to play sports on a professional level, participated in team events with the likes of Patty Tavatanakit, Collin Morikawa, Jennifer Kupcho and Viktor Hovland, and plays at a level most people can only dream of.
Yet he decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps in not joining the professional ranks.
“She didn’t really like living out of a suitcase and decided the professional track wasn’t going to be for her. When I was questioning my career path, my mom shared her experience and gave me a lot of guidance.”
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 stomachs, they won’t stop you from going far!
“So I hope I can inspire many people to be pregnant.”