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Luck of the Draw

Photo Credit: Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Jennifer Johnson plays an approach shot during the second round of the Navistar LPGA Classic at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Senator Course at Capitol Hill on September 16, 2011 in Prattville, Alabama.

July 23 2013, Katie Ann Robinson
Jennifer Johnson may not consider herself a lucky person.

But good fortune seemed to have come her way earlier this year after she was paired with four lucky gentlemen in the Pro-Am at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in May. Among those included in that pro-am group was Chris Cunningham, the CFO of Signal International, a leading Gulf of Mexico provider of marine and fabrication services.

What may have started off as a normal Wednesday Pro-Am event ended with an outlandish premonition from Cunningham that Johnson initially brushed off.

“When we shook hands on 18 he told me that everyone he’s played with ends up winning the tournament that year,” said Johnson. “He tells everyone he’s the luckiest man in the world, even his wife says it. But I didn’t really think much about it.”

Cunningham returned to the tournament on Saturday and followed Johnson’s back nine, where she strung together four straight birdies on Nos. 10 through 13 and recorded another on the par-5 16th hole. After tying her career low round  with 65 in Saturday’s third round, Johnson jumped from a tie for 15th to sit just three strokes off the leaders pace heading into the final day of play in Mobile.

“My dad told him he needed to come back on Sunday,” said Johnson with a laugh. “My dad felt the energy was good and felt like he didn’t need to follow me on Sunday. So he just sat on the 18th green and let Chris follow me.”

Sure enough, Johnson became a Rolex First-Time Winner on that Sunday when she fired another 7-under 65 to take a one-shot victory over Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum.

“I almost feel like I owe the win to ri because of his great luck,” said Johnson.

For Johnson, the timing of her first professional win also seemed symbolic as it came right around the time the 21-year-old would have graduated from Arizona State University.

“The win was just kind of weird for me,” said Johnson. “But it kind of just validated what I had been working hard for after turning pro my freshman year of college.”

The Carlsbad, Calif. native began her quest for an LPGA Tour card in 2010 shortly after finishing her first season on the Sun Devil’s women’s golf team. At 19 years old, she had decided to forego the rest of her college career when she made the cut at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open where she earned low amateur honors.

A few months later Johnson knew she made the right decision after finishing with a tie for 44th at the Final Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., which earned her status for the 2011 season.

“There was something about balancing school and golf that they both just took up a lot of time,” said Johnson. “I was kind of getting frustrated with my game and I couldn’t put enough time into school that it needed. It’s like having two full-time jobs. LPGA had always been my goal since I was like 12 or 13, so golf just kind of made the decision for me.”

Now in her third year as an LPGA Tour pro, Johnson has pieced together her most successful season yet. She boasts a résumé of six top-25 finishes including a T7 at last week’s Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I.

With each solid finish, Johnson has managed to put her name on the radar for this year’s U.S. Solheim Cup team. She currently sits in ninth place in the points race but would make the team based on her Rolex Ranking if the teams were selected today. Johnson sits just outside the top-50 in the world at No. 51.

“I just want to go out there and play good golf and the points and everything will just kind of take care of itself,” said Johnson. “It would be such an honor. I had a blast on Curtis Cup and Junior Solheim; I can’t imagine what this Solheim Cup will be like.”

With the RICOH Women’s British Open next weekend, where the U.S. and European teams will be officially announced, Johnson has her sights set on earning her first major championship win and solidifying her spot on the team.

“I just really wanted to play well in the majors,” said Johnson. “I’ve reached a huge goal of mine with my win in Mobile, so now I have to refocus to the next thing on my list. You can almost get lazy after you win so I’ve just got to keep shifting my goals.”

Topics: Johnson, Jennifer, Player Feature

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