Lauren Coughlin nearly quit golf. If it wasn’t for a strong LPGA Qualifying Tournament in December, she likely would have put the clubs away for good.
Thankfully, she earned LPGA status and is now beginning to build momentum on Tour.
Coughlin backed up a bit on Sunday at the Kingsmill Championship with a 2-over, 73, but will still earn a paycheck for a third consecutive start. That’s a major step in the right direction considering she missed the cut in her first six starts of the year.
She finished with a three-day total of 2-under.
John Pond, Coughlin’s husband, couldn’t walk a hole as her caddie without hearing the University of Virginia chant of “Wa-hoo-wa”. Coughlin was excited for the short two-hour drive home and a chance to sleep in her own bed for the next two weeks.
Coughlin grew up just 60 miles south of Williamsburg in Chesapeake and won an ACC Championship while in college at the University of Virginia. She played in an AJGA event on the River Course before her senior year of high school and that's where a former UVA assistant coach watched her play nine holes during the recruiting process.
“I had a good amount of people come support me, which was really cool,” said Coughlin, who had her mother-in-law and brother-in-law along with many people from the club she grew up playing cheering her on. “I’m going to take two weeks off going into a long six-week stretch and hopefully I carried some good momentum into it.”
Coughlin’s season begin to turnaround the week before the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, which turned out to be her first made cut of the year. At the urging of her college coach, Kim Lewellan, she called renowned mental coach Bob Rotella, who has worked with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke. He is on the Virginia staff as a volunteer assistant.
“He helped me out a lot,” said Coughlin. “He kind of made me just relax and try to have fun out here and not put too much pressure on myself.”
Coughlin and Pond married on January 20th, right before the start of the season. Since tying the knot, the couple hasn’t even spent a month together because of the rigorous travel.
“This is only the third tournament together and it’s nice spending time (with him),” said Coughlin. “I’m way more even-keeled than he is. I think it goes back to his football days – being jacked up and stuff.”
Pond, who played football at UVA, uses his vacation time from his job at the University of Virginia to caddie.
“It’s a blast, it’s always fun when we get to do this together,” said Pond on Sunday. “As a rookie, she doesn’t get a ton of attention so to be able to come to place where a lot of people know who you are is special. To get the weekend together with her is great.”
So, how did Pond do as a caddie?
“I kind of use the pass-fail grading system,” he said with a chuckle. “Every time she brings me back I think I passed.”
He certainly did and so did Lauren.