One to build on
Gulyanamitta ready for big 2012 after eventful 2011
If 2011 was any indication, Numa Gulyanamitta could have a big year in 2012.
The LPGA Tour rookie from Thailand will enter her first season riding a wave of momentum, and she’s hoping it takes her to new heights in the professional ranks. Gulyanamitta polished off an impressive collegiate career by winning the 2011 Big Ten Championship, being named Big Ten Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year at Purdue.
She led the Boilermakers – the 2010 NCAA Champions – to a second-place finish in the 2011 NCAA Tournament before graduating with a degree in aviation management.
But she wasn’t done there.
After qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open, Gulyanamitta fought through weather delays, elevation and gnarly greens at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., tying for 15th place in the historic tournament. That performance gave her added confidence going forward.
“That one was fun,” Gulyanamitta said of the Women’s Open. “We had delays every day, and I had to play 35 holes in one day to finish the tournament. It was tough with the greens and the elevation. I was going to turn pro anyway, but the U.S. Women’s Open boosted my confidence more. So, I was confident to go to q-school.”
Shortly after that achievement, Gulyanamitta began her march through the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She made her way past the first two stages, played in some mini-tour events in Arizona to keep her game sharp and then teed it up in the final stage in early December.
With her older sister Russy – a former LPGA Tour player – on her bag, Gulyanamitta battled her way through the grueling five-round final stage and finished in fine fashion. Back-to-back rounds of 68 (-4) left her atop the q-school field at the end of the week, two strokes ahead of Christine Song as the winner of one of the most physically and mentally demanding events a pro can enter.
“I had my sister on my bag that week, and just her being there helped me a lot,” said Gulyanamitta, who began playing golf at age 7. “So, everything was just perfect.”
In short, it was a heck of a year for the young talent.
“Oh, 2011 was a great year,” she said. “I won a big tournament, and we almost won the NCAA Tournament. It was a really good year.”
Gulyanamitta said her sister will be on her bag at a few tournaments this season, and the two of them spent the rest of December playing in professional events in Taiwan. Having Russy in her corner, she says, makes Numa more comfortable and confident.
“She knows what you have to do to be on Tour, so she’s given me a lot of advice that’s been helpful,” Numa said.
So, as the 2012 season begins in earnest, Gulyanamitta is ready to go.
“I’m feeling good so far,” she said. “I still need to work on my putting, but in general, (my game) looks pretty good. I’m confident, but there are a lot of things to learn here. I think I can handle it, and I’m excited.”
Along the way, Gulyanamitta will have a host of hobbies in which to indulge in away from the golf course, giving her a balance some players spend years trying to find.
Whether it’s playing the piano, sports or baking, Gulyanamitta has interests to help keep her mind off golf when needed. Baking, she says, is her real passion.
“It’s just good for when you get tired of playing golf,” said Gulyanamitta, whose specialty is blueberry cheesecake. “I can go home and start baking and making food I like. It just helps me take my mind off my golf game and do whatever I need to make me happy. I like to cook, and when you are in college, you have to cook a lot to save money. Baking, cooking and being in the kitchen is fun for me.”If all goes as planned, Gulyanamitta will soon be cooking up some tasty results on Tour as well.