Hard work paying off for LPGA rookie Bordner

Danah Bordner during the first round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Danah Bordner during the first round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

PHOENIX – Danah Bordner is a 30-year-old rookie. That’s like an oxymoron on the LPGA. Rookies out here usually can’t drink the champagne that showers them. 

Bordner – a Midwestern product of muni golf – exhibits a rare kind of sticktoitiveness. She spent the past six years toiling on the Futures Tour, earning a grand total of $78,189. This marks the first time Bordner has had any kind of status on the LPGA, and she had 15 supporters out in Phoenix to celebrate the accomplishment. 

“She’s just a ball of confidence and positive energy,” said good friend Jenny Gleason, who traveled with Bordner the past several years on the developmental circuit.

Bordner, who views her age as an advantage, opened her LPGA career with a 2-over 74 March 18 at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup. When asked what she looked forward to the most this year, Bordner said having a full-time caddie. She mostly worked solo on the Futures circuit. John McCready, a 25-year veteran on the Champions Tour who worked for Chi Chi Rodriguez and Isao Aoki, keeps her company inside the ropes.

Herniated discs cut several of Bordner’s Futures seasons short. In 2008, coming back from yet another injury, Bordner asked herself one last time: “Am I really doing this?”

The support of friends and family gave this woman of faith the courage to press on.

Danah’s father, Denny Ford, operates Indy’s Pleasant Run and Sarah Shank, two muni golf courses, that Bordner knows inside and out. Formerly known as Danah Ford, she played golf at Indiana University, where she won the 2004 Big Ten Championship.

In December 2005, Nicole and Craig Castrale set Danah up on a date with Steve Bordner, director of instruction at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Steve is a stack and tilt instructor and his wife has been a disciple of the method for five years, working with Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer.

The couple married in October 2009. Erika Meyer, Danah’s best friend since college, served as matron of honor. While the Bordners were honeymooning the next week, Danah learned that Meyer had died. She’d been diagnosed with ovarian cancer four months and 10 days prior. Meyer was 29. 

This week, Bordner plays for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition in memory of Meyer. 

“She knew me better than my husband,” Bordner said. “She took secrets with her.”

At the beginning of last year’s Futures season, Bordner sat Gleason down and said: “I just need you to look out for me this year.”

Losing Meyer had crushed Bordner to the core. 2010 was a hard-fought battle. She made $18,636 on the Futures Tour, with two top 10s.

The final round of LPGA Q-School last December was a miserable mix of cold, rain and wind. When Gleason finished her round, she immediately asked her caddie to find out how Bordner fared. Bordner closed with a bogey-free 68, the lowest round of the day and punctuated a difficult year with a most satisfying achievement, finishing tied for fourth to earn her card. 

Gleason was at the Founders Cup on Friday to cheer on her fellow road warrior. They have shared housing, cars, practice rounds and countless meals. They each know which of their clothes go in the dryer and for how long. At night, they both took Tums to settle their stomachs. Fittingly, Gleason gave Bornder a bottle of Tums when she got married.

“She’s like the sister I never had,” Gleason said. “I couldn’t be more happy for her out here.”

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