Olympics serve as inspiration for Tubert

Emily Tubert of Burbank, California during the 2012 U. S. Women's Amateur Championship at The Country Club.

CLEVELAND – Sometimes, Emily Tubert said, the best inspiration an athlete can have comes from outside her sport.

The gravity-defying twists of gymnasts half her size, for example, have made Tubert think twice about her level of commitment to the game of golf. When she looks at the singular focus of these Olympic athletes – an all-consuming, never-ending, tireless work ethic that’s put forth for the chance to shine once every four years – suddenly those breaks she takes when no one is watching seem downright lazy.

“Your window of opportunity is really small,” said Tubert, who will soon enter her third year at Arkansas. Tubert got a small glimpse of what it’s like to represent the U.S. overseas when she played on the Curtis Cup team last June. There were roughly 3,000 spectators per day in Scotland, barely a blip by Olympic standards.

Safe to say most golfers, the serious ones at least, are looking at this year’s Olympics differently than past years, with golf making its return in Brazil in 2016.

While the Olympic format for golf isn’t set in stone, they’re looking at two-person teams for each country. Tubert isn’t alone in thinking stacked countries like the U.S. and Korea need several teams (like beach volleyball).

“I don’t know who you know,” Tubert said, “but two is not enough.”

Tubert, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, is among the favorites this week at the U.S. Women's Amateur at The Country Club, even though she failed to advance to match play last year. That was uncharacteristic to say the least. Tubert made the most of the week caddying for good friend Austin Ernst, who advanced to the semifinals. But it was a waste of good talent.

Two years ago, in Tubert’s Women’s Amateur debut, her goal was to get on TV. While she had won the WAPL earlier that summer, the event wasn’t televised. The outgoing Tubert, whose father is a Hollywood actor, only got a mention that week.

“The announcer said ‘The Public Links champion was definitely the favorite and that was a massacre,’” said Tubert, who had lost, 6 and 4, in the third round.

“Talk about a dagger.”

Tubert opened with a 72 on a glorious day in Cleveland, good for T-16. She’s in fine shape to improve upon last year’s disappointing finish.

Perhaps someone in this field will go on to win this week and match Babe Zaharias as the only U.S. Women’s Amateur champion to participate in the Olympics. Zaharias won two gold medals and one silver medal in track and field at the 1932 Olympics. She went on to win the Women’s Amateur in 1946.

“Babe never talked to me about her Olympic medals or any of those other sports,” Peggy Kirk Bell once said of her good friend. “She just talked about golf, and how much she believed it had lifted her up.”

• • •

EARLY EXIT: Tiffany Lua left The Country Club in tears on Monday after withdrawing with a sore left wrist. The UCLA senior first injured her wrist hitting out of fescue during the postseason last spring and tried to rest it at the WAPL. She walked off the course after nine holes this afternoon, looking ahead to the first stage of LPGA Qualifying School Sept. 4-7.

“I’m really sad,” said Lua, a staple on the USGA scene. This was likely her last chance to win a USGA amateur title before turning professional.

• • •

ROOKIE MISTAKES? NOT LIKELY:Don’t recognize the name Hyu Joo Kim? LPGA fans will know her as the Korean amateur who nearly won the Evian Masters last week. Kim, playing in her first USGA championship, already has won on the Korean LPGA and Japan LPGA, making her a force to be reckoned with in Cleveland.

While this marks Kim’s first match play event since middle school – and only her second overall – her resume and swing will likely make up for any rookie match play mistakes. The 17-year-old opened with a 4-under 68, a round she described as “so so.” She trails New Zealand’s Lydia Ko by two strokes.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Kim said, with the help of a translator.

For her, not the opponents.

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