Texas commit Hailee Cooper gets U.S. Women's Open call, in field as alternate

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Texas commit Hailee Cooper gets U.S. Women's Open call, in field as alternate

LPGA Tour

Texas commit Hailee Cooper gets U.S. Women's Open call, in field as alternate

SHOAL CREEK, Ala. – Last year, Hailee Cooper got a phone call from the USGA on Wednesday around noon of U.S. Women’s Open week, informing her that she was first alternate at Trump National. The Texas teen got on a 5 p.m. flight that night from Houston and checked into her New Jersey hotel at 12:30 a.m. Six hours later, she was on the range practicing. Eight hours later, no dice.

This time when 18-year-old Cooper finished first alternate at the Kingwood, Texas, qualifier, she called the USGA 10 days out to check on her odds.

“We wanted to be prepared, unlike last year,” she said. “They told me ‘you’re the next person that we call.’ ” 

Cooper hit the road on Sunday morning and was driving her Toyota RAV-4 through Mississippi when the phone rang. She woke up her dad, who was taking a snooze in the passenger seat, with those three magic words: “I got in! I got in!”

“It was super exciting,” said Cooper, “but I had to drive.”

Cooper played a practice round at soggy Shoal Creek on Monday with Sophia Schubert, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, and her future Texas coach Ryan Murphy, who is on Schubert’s bag. Cooper heads to Austin this fall to compete for the Longhorns. In 2016, Cooper teamed with Texas sophomore Kaitlyn Papp to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Streamsong Resort.

It has been a whirlwind month for Cooper, who was recently named prom queen at Montgomery High School. She couldn’t stay up late to celebrate, however, as she had a practice round the next day for her Kingwood qualifier.

After that it was the 6A State Championship, followed by graduation. She ranked 24th in a class of 640 academically. Her father, Ronnie, a history teacher and golf coach at Montgomery, played football at the same high school and graduated in 1992. 

Ronnie had Hailee in one of his world history classes her sophomore year. 

She, of course, made a 100 on every test and people were like ‘Are you giving her the answers?’ ” said Ronnie. “Everything she does she tries to be perfect.” 

Cooper knows that a U.S. Women’s Open, this muddy version in particular, will present a new kind of test. There will be nothing perfect about it. Except maybe the Lexus courtesy car she was psyched to drive.

The RAV-4 will remain in the hotel parking lot until it’s time to make the 11-hour journey home.

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