Growing up in Monterey, California, Mina Harigae fed off competition.
"Back then I only had one girlfriend that I played golf with. It was totally different growing up. All the junior golfers that I hung out with then were boys," said Harigae. "I think that's what helped me become very competitive. I wanted to beat the boys."
That competitiveness drove her to where she is today - playing alongside hundreds of other women with similar mindsets. Harigae is in her 11th year on Tour, and despite being a Tour veteran, she's still tweaking and adjusting her game every day.
"This break has helped me a lot,” she said. “I've been working on a lot of things in my game. I've never had this much time where I could make multiple changes without being in a hurry."
Those changes include how she hits her wedges, along with some swing changes and a few tweaks to her mental game. And she has a new trainer, Zach Gulley. To say the culmination of all this has made a difference is an understatement.
While trying to put in hours of practice, Harigae decided to play in Cactus Tour events, a minitour based in the western part of the U.S. Out of the last six events she played, Harigae won four of them.
"Cactus Tour events gave me something to look forward to again," she said.
Not only did she win, but she dominated, with 14 and 16 stroke victories in the last two tournaments. Finishing 23-under on June 11, Harigae carded a stunning 61 in the final round.
"When I played Cactus Tour in the past, I wasn't shooting these scores, and I'd win a couple here and there," said Harigae. "This year, I've played a couple of courses I've never played, and being able to shoot those scores is a huge confidence booster."
Although most would see these leaderboards as extraordinary, Harigae doesn't see it that way.
"I'm obviously shooting low scores, but it doesn't feel like I'm doing something extraordinary in particular, just more like I'm doing a lot of things well."
After finding herself back in LPGA Q-Series in 2019, it's clear Harigae put her head down and got to work.
"As golf goes, it's a game of up and down, so inevitably when I go back down a little bit, I'll try not to be so hard on myself because I know it'll always come back up," she said. "I'm seeing things differently. My standard bar used to be all over the place; when I was playing horrible, I would be thrilled to shoot 2-under, and when I was playing great, I would be upset over a 3-under day."
It all comes down to her mental game. Harigae said these recent scores are no coincidence. The time she's invested has led to this. All she wants is to get back on Tour so her competitiveness can be fully utilized.
"I'm just looking forward to the competition again," said Harigae. "You know, the thrill of playing on Tour."