Marissa Steen sits two shots off the opening round lead at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and is healthy and feeling more confident in 2017 on the LPGA Tour.
The Ohio native started playing golf a little later than most at the age of 14.
“I played a bunch of other sports growing up, so focusing on golf I was a little late to it,” said Steen. “I played at the University of Memphis in Tennessee for four years and graduated from there and then played Symetra Tour for three seasons.”
In 2014, after the best season of her career on the Symetra Tour, which included three wins, Player of the Year honors and the top spot on the Volvik Race for the Card money list earning her LPGA Tour membership for the 2015 season, she had the flu on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, the flu caused a lot of coughing which led to pain in her ribs.
“I just woke up one day, and my side hurt. It took about two weeks, finally to where it was like I couldn’t sleep really at night, so I was like, I need to go get this checked out, and sure enough.”
With the 2015 LPGA season around the corner, there was no time to rest, so Steen started her rookie season with three cracked ribs, looking back now, taking some time to heal would have been a good idea.
“I should have taken a medical, but I didn’t,” said Steen. “I was a rookie; I was excited to be out here, coming off the best season I had ever played [on Symetra Tour]. I didn’t want to, and I guess I had never been injured before, I didn’t really know how to handle it. Now, I think I have a little better grasp of what to do if that happens again in the future.”
Struggling her rookie season, only making four cuts to finish 138 on the Money List, Steen decided to play Symetra Tour in 2016, now healthy she went on to finish 8th in the final Symetra Tour Volvik Race for the Card money list standings to secure her spot on the LPGA Tour for the 2017 season.
“I feel so much more prepared having been out here before. I kind of know the ropes now after 2015 and last year I came out and played two events and made the cut both times and really gained a lot of confidence,” explained Steen. “I think those two starts I got last season, so I feel, coming here, all the way across the world, I’ve done it before, and so I think I’m way more comfortable and I’m looking forward to the season.”
Steen didn’t look at going back to the Symetra Tour as a setback, but more of a learning experience.
“I actually learned a lot more, I played in Atlantic City last year, and I think being removed from LPGA for a while and then coming back out, it kind of hit me what the difference was,” she explained. “I just feel like out here I need to have a little more tunnel vision. There’s a little more going on with more fans and volunteers and club reps and media; everything’s just a little bit bigger. So, I think I learned; I need to, when I’m practicing, have a set practice plan each day and stick to it, and really kind of keep my focus on what I’m doing.
My first time around I was kind of getting distracted by everything, all of the outside things outside of golf.”
Now looking back Steen feels, “it was physical for five months, and obviously, I think the healing process was delayed because I never took a break. So, I was in pain from May and then I said, it was mental, and then it was emotional, and then I pretty much went through everything. I think looking back on it; I think I took so much from that experience, so many positives going forward that of course, I wish it wouldn’t have happened, but I think at the same time it probably happened for a reason, and that was an experience I needed to have.”