2004: Mayorkas: Blue-collar Bruin
Monday, October 3, 2011
Three years ago, Charlotte Mayorkas arrived at her first team practice a tad late. UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth had Mayorkas report at 6 a.m. the following day to run 12 laps around Drake Stadium and she hasn’t slowed down since.
Mayorkas now runs a minimum of 20 minutes daily, and often can be found hitting balls under the lights at UCLA’s practice range. If the NCAA gave an award for hardest-working player, Forsyth can’t think of a better candidate.
“It’s really inspiring for everybody around her, all her teammates and myself as well,” Forsyth said. “She’s not a real verbal leader, but I don’t think you can ask for a better example of work ethic.”
Mayorkas’ dedication culminated last spring when she helped lead the Bruins to their second NCAA Division I Championship title. Her spectacular spring, capped by a fourth-place finish at nationals, included four individual titles.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience to see how a program can develop,” said Mayorkas, who finished runner-up to Duke’s Liz Janangelo in the Golfweek/ Sagarin College Rankings. “Wanting something so bad, putting a goal down and saying we’re going to do this as a team no matter what it takes, cat fights and all. . . . It was amazing.”
Mayorkas, who turns 21 this month, owes much of her resolve to the one-woman gallery who followed her every move at the NCAAs in Opelika, Ala. – her mother, Michelle. When Charlotte was growing up in Southern California, Michelle enrolled her wide-eyed daughter into everything from acting classes to painting to tennis. At age 10, Mayorkas accompanied a neighbor to a golf lesson where a “natural swing” was discovered. Michelle Mayorkas picked up a set of Spalding blades at a garage sale, and her daughter has been playing since.
At 11, Mayorkas began taking lessons from Shawn Cox, then an assistant pro at Torrey Pines, and played in the San Diego Junior Golf Association. She earned a number of SDJGA Player of the Year titles before beginning her American Junior Golf Association tour in summer 1999.
Throughout high school she remained well-rounded, playing tennis, water polo and basketball. But Mayorkas knew golf was her ticket to college, and her days playing No. 2 on the boys’ team bring back a flood of fond memories.
Mayorkas’ parents divorced when she was a child, and her mother instilled a strong work ethic by simultaneously holding down jobs as a law librarian in two separate offices. A Cal-Berkeley graduate, Michelle Mayorkas also drilled home the importance of an education.
“She respects everything her mom always did for her to the point where she could earn a scholarship,” said Cox, Mayorkas’ longtime instructor who now teaches out of La Jolla Country Club. “Charlotte is coming through on her end and graduating.”
Mayorkas is pursuing a degree in history while in Los Angeles, but she envies those students majoring in film. She lists Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn among her favorites and could easily see herself working behind the camera.
But Hollywood will have to wait. Mayorkas already is writing the script to Act IV of her college career, and if the past is any indication, it should be a blockbuster year.
Since her first season at UCLA, Mayorkas has dropped her scoring average by 5.1 strokes. She has more than tripled her rounds under par and increased her top-10 finishes five times over. The secret to an explosive senior season revolves around a solid start.
“The personal goal that we’ve talked about is having a win in the fall,” said Cox, who believes Mayorkas’ slow starts have kept her from owning the No. 1 spot in the Golfweek rankings. She begins her senior season the same place she finished as a junior: No. 2, one spot behind Janangelo.
During the school year, Mayorkas makes the two-hour trek to La Jolla every weekend to see Cox for tune-ups. The pair can be found on the range trying out Cox’s latest swing aid or dissecting Mayorkas’ movement on video tape.
“Shawn is known for his gadgets,” said Mayorkas, who calls Cox after nearly every tournament round. “Now I have a hat that beeps when my head drops.”
The fact that her top player has so much information swirling around in her head during the season doesn’t worry Forsyth. She views Mayorkas’ knack for separating practice from competition as one of her greatest strengths.
“I think she has a very rare gift in that she has the ability to work on her swing while still competing,” said Forsyth. “When she gets over the ball, she has the ability to shut it off and play target golf.”
Those involved with Mayorkas say she is close to being able to make a good living as a professional. A physical tweak here, a mental tweak there, and everything could fall into place.
“She’s the kind of girl who goes out and practices for two or three hours in the morning before school, practices after school, studies, and then goes to the range late at night and hits more balls,” Cox said.
If UCLA fans thought last season was a success, the sequel – with Mayorkas in the lead role – could be even better.
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