DAYTONA BEACH – For the past two years, Jaye Marie Green has made a living as a professional athlete on the LPGA Tour. But it’s only in the last few months that she’s started treating herself like one.
The disconnect between Green’s profession and the discipline required to maintain a successful career left her without a top-20 finish in 2016 and a 112th place finish on the season’s money list, forcing her to return to the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in hopes of improving her status on the Tour’s Priority List for 2017. It’s not unfamiliar territory for Green, who went wire-to-wire at final stage in 2013 to finish as medalist at a record 29-under par and earn her card for 2014.
“I wasn’t wanting to really ever come back, but I kinda feel like it’s a reason this time, to help me with some confidence because I had no confidence last year, not on or off the golf course,” Green told LPGA.com after her round. “So, this is helping with that a little bit.”
Three months ago, the 22-year-old began evaluating her own life, looking at how other athletes were conducting themselves and realized she wasn’t taking her own career seriously. She was focused more on going out and drinking than working on her game.
“Do you think Usain Bolt would do that before he runs? No. Why would I do that then?” Green said. “My workouts weren’t really golf specific, I wasn’t eating well, you know when you turn 21 and want to have some fun. I looked at my lifestyle - this isn’t how a professional athlete would train.”
While it was a warning Green had been hearing from her mother for some time, she said it was a lesson she had to learn on her own.
“I decided to cut out drinking completely, so when I did that I had more time for other things. I realized you have more time to put more time into golf and workouts and mental stuff,” said Green. “I think, honestly, I’ve been treating my mind, body, everything more like a professional athlete. Before I wouldn’t.”
That rededication helped her to opening rounds of 68 - 68 at Q-school to sit in a share of third at eight-under par. This week her brother Matt, a scratch golfer, is on the bag while her father and regular caddie recovers from some issues with his hip. Matt will be on his sister’s bag for most of 2017 as well and is already proving to be a positive influence in helping Green stay on track.
“We get along so well, we’re like best friends. Me and my dad too, it’s like great having family,” said Green. “My brother said to me today ‘Jaye, you really are treating yourself like a professional athlete.’ Because I made my breakfast, I do my stretches and my workouts. That’s the main thing I changed.”
This weekend, Green said her goal is to once again take home medalist honors, or at least give a good run at her record 29-under finish in 2013 when she blew away the field by 10-strokes.
“I always keep comparing it to when I was here three years ago, so I’m a little bit behind the eight ball. But I did shoot two 68s. So, I’m like alright, for me to beat my record I have to shoot 10-under, 7-under, like oh my gosh!” Green said laughing. “But I’m happy with it. I think I’m in a good position for three more days.”
She’s also in good position for 2017.