SOUTH BEND, Ind. – On a day that was all about college heroes and rising junior phenoms, Sue Nyhus quietly went to work on a second-round comeback at the Women’s Amateur Public Links.
Well, maybe not quietly.
Nyhus, the longtime BYU coach who recently took the helm of the women’s team at Utah Valley, represented a different generation as she walked the fairways Tuesday during stroke-play qualifying with Notre Dame’s Becca Huffer and Kathleen Rojas, a high schooler from Turlock, Calif. Nyhus, 47, spent the day cheering her opponents’ shots and bantering back and forth with the 14-year-old local boy on Rojas’ bag. After an opening 14-over 85, she also created something of a stir with her own game in Round 2, turning in 2-over 38 before losing momentum and going 9 over on the back.
Back home in Orem, Utah, Nyhus is one of the more decorated players in the state. She finished runner-up at the 1999 WAPL, the same year she was named the Utah Women’s Golf Association Golfer of the Year and the Female Golfer of the Decade. Consider that Nyhus also spent five years playing on the Women’s European Tour before regaining her amateur status, and she becomes something of a legend.
It’s been a rough few years for Nyhus as she has battled skin cancer, and she has played just seven rounds in the past seven months. She decided to tee it up competitively for the first time in a long time earlier this month, and won her WAPL qualifier by two shots.
“Maybe next year I’ll be a little stronger. It’s been a rough few years physically,” Nyhus said. “… Just getting ready to move back into my old playing condition.”
Though she finished near the bottom of the leaderboard in stroke-play qualifying, Nyhus’ front-nine charge in Round 2 is proof that this is a player who still has it. She walks the course with visible confidence, rams in par putts with authority and always has a smile on her face.
“I enjoy being here and I enjoy being with the girls, and I think that even if I’m not playing well, I can still make it a fun day for them and keep it light and happy and show them that you don’t have to break clubs when you’re having a bad day,” she said.
Nyhus just completed her first week at Utah Valley, where she will head a fledgling women’s golf team this fall. As she quickly pulls a new Utah Valley ID card from her pocketbook to show off, Nyhus can’t help but gush about the opportunity before her.
“I’m just really feeling fortunate that I’m on a precipice of moving this program forward and helping them to dream bigger and see bigger things and compete at higher levels,” she said. “I think they’re going to really enjoy it and I know I am.”
Here’s hoping the youngsters – whether they’re opponents or pupils – take note of the way Nyhus plays the game.