Ferrero, 28, of Lodi, Calif., originally earned LPGA Tour membership in 2007, lost her card the following year, and then regained it in 2010. En route to gaining full 2012 LPGA status, she recorded seven top-10 finishes in 16 starts, including two wins and five top-fives, during the LPGA Futures Tour’s 2011 season. Her tournament victories came at the Symetra Classic in San Antonio, Texas, and at the Teva Championship in Mason, Ohio.
The seventh-year professional and University of Texas graduate earned $58,808 this season and recorded a scoring average of 71.42. She finished the year ranked fourth in sub-par rounds (47 percent), first in par-4 average (3.993 strokes), and tied for first for eagles (5). She also recorded one hole-in-one during 2011. This season, Ferrero also played in two LPGA tournaments, finishing in the top 50 in both.
Prior to turning professional, Ferrero was the winner of the 2000 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and the 2001 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. She was also a member of the winning 2004 Big 12 Conference Championship team while at Texas and finished as runner-up at the 2004 North and South Women’s Amateur Championship.
Here’s what Ferrero has to say about her career-best season as a pro in 2011 and her thoughts about heading to the LPGA in 2012:
LPGA: How would you describe your 2011 season?
FERRERO: My season didn’t start very well, but I went to Texas [San Antonio] and got my first professional win. That gave me a lot of confidence and I played very consistently after that. Looking back, I couldn’t have planned it any better. The place where I wanted to get my first win was Texas, and that’s what happened. But I started the season with a missed cut, then I got sick in the second tournament and almost missed the cut, and in the third event, I had the lead, but blew it. So going into the San Antonio tournament, I had pretty much decided that it was my last event this year unless something happened. I was playing bad and just didn’t want to struggle that much for another year. San Antonio changed everything.
LPGA: Why was the San Antonio tournament different than any of the other weeks? Did something happen there?
FERRERO: I don’t know what changed in San Antonio. I like that golf course [The Dominion Country Club], so that helps, but the good golf just continued for the rest of the year. I finished tied for 15th the next week in Iowa, and then won again the following week.
LPGA: You and top-ranked Kathleen Ekey went back and forth at the top of the money list all season. Was that fun or did it drive you crazy?
FERRERO: I think it was fun and it was good for both of us. It was certainly motivation for me. I like Kathleen a lot and it will be fun to go to the LPGA with her.
LPGA: You actually considered quitting professional golf and going into coaching. What changed?
FERRERO: I was just frustrated, but everybody at home kept telling me, “Don’t give up, don’t give up.” And I was like, “Are you kidding? I’m not playing well at all.” But I started working with a new swing coach and he told me to commit to playing for two more years. He liked my swing. I had no confidence in chipping and he helped me with that.
LPGA: You won a USGA title and you were one of the top amateur players. Why do you think it took a while for you step up and win as a professional?
FERRERO: I came out of nowhere in junior golf and started winning events, and then the college recruiting process started. I didn’t know where to go, but I picked Texas. I’d never been on a team before and there were a lot of adjustments. So when I turned pro, I thought I’d just go out and win, but that didn’t happen. I thought I’d make it right away, but I didn’t. After a while, I decided that I was either going to make it or do something else. I decided on January 1st this year that I was going to do this. I put a lot of effort into it and it worked out.
LPGA: How do you feel about earning your LPGA card for 2012?
FERRERO: It’s great earning my full LPGA card, but I want to be at the top on the LPGA. That’s a goal.
LPGA: Where is your large replica 2012 LPGA card that you received at the awards ceremony?
FERRERO: It’s in my trunk. I caddied for Laura Bavaird at LPGA Stage II Q-school, hung out in Tampa and in Brooksville [Fla.] with Kelly Lagedrost after the Q-school, and now I’m making my way home to California after a stop in Texas. It’s a long drive.
LPGA: What is your proudest moment in golf?
FERRERO: Probably winning that USGA title at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. I didn’t realize what I did when I won it. I was 17. I thought it was just another tournament.
LPGA: How will you prepare for 2012?
FERRERO: I will prepare the same as I did this year. I’ll take some time off and then get with my sport psychologist to set up my goals and practice routines.
LPGA: What are you looking forward to the most on the 2012 LPGA Tour?
FERRERO: The accommodations. I like the food, the tournament crowds and the travel.
LPGA: What were the biggest challenges in earning your LPGA card on the Futures Tour?
FERRERO: Finally getting my first win! As I said when I won, I got the monkey off my back. And to win in San Antonio was special. If I only won once in my career, I’m glad that first win came in Texas.
LPGA: Have you set any goals yet for the LPGA Tour?
FERRERO: No, I’m just looking forward to my first fully exempt year.
LPGA: If you weren’t a golfer, what else would you want to do?
FERRERO: I’ve really thought about coaching college golf.
LPGA: Everybody knows you can play golf, but do you have any hidden talents?
FERRERO: Not really, but I’m really good at video games. I have every Nintendo game and I bring my Wii on the road so we can play “Rock Band.” I can do the guitar and the bass, but I like playing the drums.
LPGA: What’s at the top of the list on your iPod?
FERRERO: Muse, Eminem and Five For Fighting.
LPGA: Now that you have a few months of free time, what will you be watching on TV?
FERRERO: Grey’s Anatomy.
LPGA: You come from a family of grape growers in the California wine country. Have you always lived on a vineyard and have you worked in the grapes?
FERRERO: Yes, we have always lived in the vineyard in the same house. My grandfather started Ferrero Vineyards [in Lodi, Calif.]. He still helps out, but he’s retired. My uncle and my dad run it now. I never really picked grapes, but I used to hang out with my dad on the tractors and watch them dump the grapes into the semis. My dad wanted us to play sports and do other activities, so I was always busy with golf. But I’ve driven a tractor a few times.
LPGA: Does the Ferrero family have a wine label or do you grow grapes for others?
FERRERO: We have more than 400 acres and we grow several different kinds of grapes for Gallo and Korbel. Our neighbors started the label “7 Deadly Zins” and we were one of the original seven vineyards for that, but we don’t bottle it. Hopefully, they will sponsor me next year.
LPGA: Your family probably always has good wine on the table, right?
FERRERO: Yes, and we always have our homemade wine. I grab a case to take with me every time I go home. When I played with Sophie Gustafson on the LPGA Tour this year, she found out about our family’s connection with “7 Deadlly Zins” and she said, “I’ll be your friend out here. No problem.”