Ottawa's Grace St-Germain hasn't had much of a chance to experience the LPGA Tour apart from watching the best women players in the world on television.
Photo courtesy of Flagstick
Now she is going to be playing along side them.
The 18-year-old, recently promoted to Golf Canada's national women's amateur team, will play her first LPGA Tour event this week at the Manulife Classic at Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ont.
"It's going to be interesting after having only seen these girls on TV and when the Hunt had the (Canadian Open) years ago (in 2008). I'm going to try and not get too star struck. They're just out here playing and I'm one of them now, apparently," she said.
She's coming off her freshman year in which she helped the Daytona State Falcons to their ninth National Junior College Athletic Association women's team golf championship (after another year at Daytona, she will transfer to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks). She had the championship's low round (68) and wound up third, her fifth top 20 finish of the season.
Getting a chance to tee it up this week alongside Brooke Henderson and the other stars of the LPGA Tour will give St-Germain another chance to keep pushing her game forward.
"I don't want to put too many expectations on myself. It's my first LPGA event," St-Germain said after we played 18 holes in Golf Canada's national teams media day recently. "I'm going to go out, play the best I can and see what happens.
"I want to see what everybody else is doing, learn what they're doing and kind of adapt and see how that goes."
St-Germain, the national junior girls champion in 2014 and Ontario Amateur champ in 2016, was a member of Golf Canada's national development team in 2015 and '16 before joining the national amateur team which includes Jaclyn Lee of Calgary, Maddie Szeryk of Allen, Tex. (she has dual citizenship), and Naomi Ko of Victoria.
"The national team has opened so many doors for me. I wouldn't be where I am now without all the support," she said. "I've gotten to play such cool events. I've been to Peru, Mexico, Australia, all these awesome places I wouldn't have the opportunity to go to without what Team Canada does for us."
St-Germain showed some great touch on her wedge approaches and pitches with impressive distance control.
She took advantage of being in Florida for the winter to attack that part of her game.
"You want to just practice the things you do well, but you need to to work on the other parts of your game," she said. "Winters in Canada you can hit balls inside, but you can't really work on short game too much. Getting to spend all winter down in Florida with an awesome short game facility at LPGA International really kind of bumped up my short game to a level that I kind of needed it to be."
Now she's going to get a chance to measure her game against the world's best.