On this week’s Stick and Hack Show, LPGA and youth phenom golfer Morgan Pressel joins Mike and Adam to discuss her experience being a prodigy in golf, as well as what she has been up to in more recent years.
The following excerpt has been edited for space. You can listen to the rest of the episode here.
Stick & Hack: I know at the time, you weren’t probably that you were a young phenom, but that is the case. At age 18, you won your first professional tournament on the LPGA. What do you think about when you go back to that time in your life just 12, 13 years ago?
Morgan Pressel: First off, to be mentioned alongside those names that you listed… that’s quite some elite company, I don’t know if I quite belong there! But, what incredible athletes and superstars in their sport. For me, I was just a young golfer, somebody who loved to play golf, somebody who- I guess- was pretty good at it. I always say that young kids like to do things that they’re good at- that’s kind of what encourages them to continue things that are really challenging for a child. For me, golf came relatively naturally, and my grandfather was a huge influence in my golf game. He made sure that I got great instruction as a young kid, encouraged me to do things like try to qualify for the Women’s Open.
When we were playing a practice round for the qualifier, I remember (saying), “what is this for?” and he said, “oh, it’s a qualifier for the Women’s Open.” “Why am I playing in that?!” and he’s like, “just for some experience.” You know, he probably thought in the back of his mind that I could do it; I don’t know if I really thought that I could, but went out there and played great.
S&H: During your amateur career, you won 11 AJGA titles, including all five AJGA invitationals. What did that success do for your confidence and your love for competitive golf?
Morgan Pressel: I think the AJGA is just an incredible platform for young junior golfers to have an opportunity. For me, for my confidence, being able to win a lot of AJGA events… I still remember my first few victories on the AJGA- those are all important stepping stones. Your career is always made up of little goals and things like that, and you want to win; for me it was, I wanted to win an AJGA event. You want to win a Major, then you want to win Player of the Year, and so on and so forth. To be able to accomplish those things as a young junior playing against, honestly, a lot of the players that I’m still competing
against on the LPGA tour- I mean I think that says a lot about the talent that goes through the AJGA.
It was a huge moment for me in my career.
S&H: Are you excited about the movement that’s happening in golf with youth right now? What would you tell a 12 year old today about the journey they’re getting ready to go on in golf?
Morgan Pressel: Definitely, I think you see it across all sports- I mean, you see kids in middle or elementary school very focused on a singular sport, where I feel like that didn’t used to happen in the past. But, they’re getting great coaching, great inspiration, and I think great inspiration from the LPGA Tour players, specifically in Women’s golf. One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing all the young girls that come out because that was me! I was one of those young girls watching LPGA before I qualified, before I was able to play alongside them- I was also out as a spectator, wanting autographs, and all of that. So, getting to meet these young kids and then watching them progress, watching them come out to an LPGA event that inspires them to want to go play more golf… I think that’s definitely one of my favorite parts about my job. You see it on tour, every year the future of the game is so bright. There’s more young girls getting involved- it’s the fastest growing section of the game, and I’m really excited to see what the future holds with this youth movement and encouragement of young girls. Golf is cool! When I was young, almost 20 years ago, golf wasn’t cool for a young girl to do, but I think it is now.
S&H: Where do you see women’s golf going in the next few years, and are you super excited about the personalities and the roster of golfers that are currently on the LPGA today?
Morgan Pressel: Absolutely. I mean we have some real superstars on the LPGA. The Korda Sisters are definitely one of the most interesting duos to watch on the tour, they’ve been in contention every week this year. Lydia Ko winning for the first time in three years resonated with a lot of players out on the tour- I know it resonated with me. We talked about the youth movement, there’s a lot of really incredible young players coming out that have joined the tour in the last few years. Of course, we have a big hire to make with the new commissioner, so I think that in the next few years, it will be interesting to see the direction that the new commissioner takes the tour. Obviously, Mike Whan has done an incredible job over the last 11 years- we just have to continue to roll with that momentum; continue to increase viewership, continue to outreach. We’re just trying all sorts of ways to get more people involved in the LPGA and watching this tour. I always feel like once we get people in the gate, they’re usually fans for life.
S&H: The Morgan Pressel Foundation is just an amazing foundation you started, and you’ve raised millions of dollars helping fight cancer. Tell us a little bit about it and how people can get involved.
Morgan Pressel: It’s been about 14 years since we had our first Morgan and Friends Fight Cancer Tournament gere at St. Andrew’s Country Club, and we have raised about 10 million dollars over that 14 years to benefit the breast cancer initiative here right in our backyard at Boca Raton Regional Hospital and Sylvester Cancer Center. It’s really amazing. It’s almost fully supported by the community here, I’m very lucky to have an incredible group of friends and extended family that knew my mother passed away when she was 44 from breast cancer, and it’s all done in her name and honor. It’s very special to me.
Obviously, I love to play golf and I love competing, but nothing really means more to me than to be able to get back to our community right here in our backyard. I love traveling the world and telling my story, and encouraging women all over to stay up on their health and get their mammograms. With COVID, a lot of women delayed their mammograms because they were afraid to go into the hospitals, but unfortunately, breast cancer doesn’t wait for a pandemic either. Here’s my message to your female viewers: if you delayed your mammogram, go get it. Don’t wait- waiting usually does not end well, let’s put it that way.
Key takeaway: The LPGA and Youth Movement in golf is growing now more than ever. And ladies, get your mammograms!
Listen here to learn more about Morgan’s new broadcast gig as well as the Morgan Pressel Foundation.