Meet Taylor Coleman, star of North Texas LPGA
Taylor Coleman was the talk of Las Colinas after storming to the top of the leaderboard as a little-known Texas teenager. Coleman, 16, qualified for her first LPGA start, the North Texas LPGA Shootout, in a qualifier designed specifically for the top junior girls in Texas. Three days later, she was sitting among the top 10 players with a first-round 68.
Coleman burst into the spotlight so fast that we barely had time to get to know her. The 16-year-old heard about the opportunity to qualify for the LPGA event at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas from boyfriend Austin Connelly, another top junior golfer (Connelley recently won the AJGA Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship and finished T-13 at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley). Coleman submitted an application to the Nexus Club, the organization sponsoring the qualifer, and was granted an opportunity to play. She shot 1-over 72 and earned one of two spots reserved in the field.
Coleman had played a few practice rounds at Las Colinas in preparation for the event, but before that, had never played the course. She lives about 280 miles south of Irving, in San Antonio.
“It sets up good for me because I’m used to tight greens and tight fairways,” Coleman said of the course.
After qualifying, Coleman went back home and went to school Tuesday and Wednesday morning. She arrived back in Irving at about 5 p.m. the night before the first round. She drew a Thursday tee time with Eun-Hee Ji, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open champion, and Irene Cho.
“They were both so nice,” Coleman said. “I was so scared they weren’t going to be nice.”
Those nerves translated to a bogey on the first hole, where Coleman “couldn’t even swing my golf club.” She was 1 over after the first nine, but had four birdies in a seven-hole stretch on the back.
“I was playing really consistent, and I was pretty confident on the back nine,” Coleman said.
Coleman had swing coach Tim Hobby on the bag for the tournament, and said Hobby would not allow her to look at her scorecard. When she signed for 3-under 68 at the end of the day, she figured she might be near the top of the leaderboard because of tough conditions that day. She was shocked to find that she was third at the time she signed, and that her score held up for a share of eighth at the end of the day.
During Round 2, Coleman couldn’t find the same magic with her approach shots, and fell to 77. She shot a third-round 78 and missed the 54-hole cut, but Coleman likely will be back at this level.
“It really helps my confidence knowing I can hang in with the big girls and the professionals,” she said.
In the meantime, Coleman who will graduate in 2015, is starting to look at colleges. The young Texan gave no hints about what school she might be leaning toward, but the search is under way.