Caroline Masson, Not Quite a Rookie
Caroline Masson may be a rookie on the LPGA Tour this year; however she is no rookie in the professional golf realm.
A three-year member of the Ladies European Tour, Masson didn't need much time before she established herself as one of the circuit’s top players. Before she was even a member, Masson put her name in the spotlight on the LET when she won the Tour’s final qualifying tournament in December 2009, just after her first season on the Oklahoma State University women’s golf team. The Gladbeck, Germany native went on to tally 17 top 10 finishes over the three-year span.
Masson earned her breakthrough win at the South African Women’s Open in 2012. It was a win that not only validated her decision to turn pro, but also gave her the confidence she needed to push herself to the next level of her career.
“That win was huge for me,” said Masson. “It was my third year on tour and I felt like I should have won before, so it was big relief. I had two runner-up finishes that year before I won and it was just great to finally finish it off.
“It also meant a lot because I always said that I would only try to get on the LPGA if I won on the LET before, so it was definitely a big step in my career.”
Masson came to Daytona Beach, Fla. to try her luck in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament last December and finished tied for 11th which was enough for her to earn her LPGA Tour card for the 2013 season.
The 24-year-old made her first statement on the LPGA Tour with a stellar performance at the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout in April when she led the first two rounds before finishing in a tie for 15th.
Prior to her impressive start in Texas, Masson had missed the cut in four of the first five events of her rookie year, but her first made cut came at one of the season’s most celebrated majors, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“In the beginning of the year I was struggling a little bit, especially with my putting,” said Masson. “It just seemed like I needed some time to adjust to the courses and the atmosphere out here but I finally turned it around with a good finish at the Kraft Nabisco. That gave me some confidence and definitely helped to make it a great first year on the LPGA.”
With Masson’s LET win and solid performances in the first three majors of the season, she became an easy pick for the 2013 European Solheim Cup Team. Claiming the fourth spot in the European points race, she joined five other rookies who contributed to a 18-10 victory in Parker, Colo. at the 13th staging of the Solheim Cup.
As a rookie Solheim Cup member, Masson helped the European squad win on American soil for the first time in the tournament’s history. Finishing her first Solheim Cup with a 2-1-1 record, Masson says participating in the storied event ranks as her favorite rookie experience so far this season.
“Playing in the Solheim Cup was my biggest goal this year and it was really cool to make it on the team while playing on the LPGA,” said Masson. “It was a big risk because we don't get any points for the ranking except for the majors. Being part of the first European team winning on American soil is just unbelievable and was definitely the best moment in my golfing career so far.”
Masson has since recorded two top-10 finishes at the CN Canadian Women’s Open and the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola,. Her stellar performances in those two events havehelped push her into the No. 1 spot in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race.
“I didn't really follow the Rookie of the Year race until I jumped into the No. 1 spot and everyone was asking me about it,” said Masson. “I think it was good for me that I didn't focus on this all year long because you might get too caught up with things like that. But obviously now, with only a few tournaments to play, I feel very happy to be in this position and will try my best to stay there. Looking at all the big names that won the Rookie of the Year award in the past years, it would be a huge honor to put my name on that list.”
It’s just the beginning of a of Masson’s career in golf. But her successes so early on in her career have Masson feeling hopeful that she’ll be making a living playing a sport she’s loved since she was six-years-old for a very long time.
“It's just an awesome feeling to know that all the hard work over the years has paid off,” said Masson. “I'm very happy and grateful that I have the chance to play golf for a living.”