Aubert feeling like a local at Annika
REUNION, Fla. – To call Shannon Aubert a local in Central Florida isn’t exactly correct. Only 16, Aubert already has put down and pulled up roots in multiple continents. She’s moved more times than most do their entire lives, and as a result her list of “people” is long.
For now, Aubert is calling Orlando, Fla., home. She’s been playing and practicing out of Reunion Resort for the past four years and works with swing coach Henri Reis and personal trainer Kai Fusser at the Annika (Sorenstam) Academy. She’s grown so close to the academy’s namesake that the former World No. 1 addresses her in something like a motherly tone. Aubert and Sorenstam sat next to each other as they answered questions from the media during Friday’s pre-tournament press conference.
“It’s pretty amazing because if you think about it, I probably don’t realize how much of a privilege it is,” Aubert said. “She’s the No. 1 woman golfer in the whole world, ever. It’s most of the girls’ dreams just to meet her, see her. The fact that I can be with her and she knows who I am, it’s pretty amazing.”
Aubert opened the Annika Invitational with an even-par 72 that left her T-3. She birdied the final two holes, making good on a new year’s resolution to finish every tournament strong, rather than take herself out of it at the end.
Minutes later, Aubert found herself talking with John and Louise Irwin, locals who met Aubert here two years ago and, like other Reunion regulars, make it a point to follow Aubert’s progress.
“She has a beautiful way about her,” Louise explained walking down the 18th fairway. “Everybody roots for her.”
Minutes after that, Aubert was walking away from the scoring tent sandwiched between Ashlan Ramsey and Ashlan's mother Carla. The Ramseys are another surrogate family for Aubert -- she lived with them for two years in Milledgeville, Ga., when she first moved to the U.S. to play golf here full time. Before that, Aubert had spent a year in Singapore with a family friend.
“It’s pretty amazing because it’s like I have a second family now,” Aubert said of Ashlan and her older sister Taylor.
By the second round of the Annika, Aubert’s real family will be in the gallery, too. Her mother Monica spent Saturday flying back to Florida from Chamonix, France, where Shannon’s father Christian is the general manager of a ski resort. Monica is completing classes through Kaiser University in Orlando to become certified as a radiology tech.
“She’s with me full time, which is nice because I was used to her not being here all the time,” Aubert said.
Before Chamonix, Aubert’s childhood was spent in a tiny town in Switzerland, where Christian worked for a different resort. Aubert grew up simultaneously speaking English to her mom, who is originally from South Africa, and her dad’s native French. She spent half of Saturday speaking French with Celine Boutier, the other half speaking English to Alison Lee.
Add to Aubert’s resume a German dialect she picked up in Switzerland and the formal German she was taught in school and she becomes something of a linguistic genius. Even with all this is in her background, she speaks English without the slightest trace of an accent.
“No accent at all,” she says with a smile.
Aubert plays a handful of AJGA events a year, but sat out of the USGA circuit this summer as she made too many trips back home. Along with Boutier, Aubert is a member of the French National team and competed in the European Team Championship. She’s hoping to be one of the players selected to represent her country at the World Amateur Team Championship in October.
“It’s really fun and the girls are great and it’s just really nice to be part of a team,” said Aubert, who joined the squad two years ago.
Aubert has her eye on other teams, too. She will graduate in 2014, and hopes to take advantage of a possible golf scholarship -- she thinks she’d be crazy not to.
“The fact that in girls’ golf you can get the opportunity of getting a full scholarship, everyone should take advantage of that,” she said.
Once her list of possibilities started with Stanford and ended with Duke, but now she admits she has to consider Clemson since both Ramsey sisters have committed to play there.
“I mean, your friends are there so it kind of makes a change,” Aubert said.
She knows something about the importance of being surrounded by family.