Brittany Lang is back to playing golf, with five-month-old daughter Shay able to watch her mother for the first time in her young life. The two-time LPGA Tour winner is making her first competitive appearance since becoming a #LPGAMom in January, at the same golf club she last competed at on the LPGA Tour.
And even though it isn’t a LPGA Tour event, she’ll be up against quite the competition.
With the Tour scheduled to return July 23 at the Marathon Classic presented by Dana, players have taken to the course to compete in anything from developmental tour events to charitable matches. Lang is following suit, competing in the Energy Producers, Inc. Texas Women’s Open at the Old American Golf Club, the host venue of the Volunteers of America Classic.
Lang, who resides in McKinney, Texas, played in the 2019 VOA Classic and finished T16, her last event before taking maternity leave. She said she’s been practicing since her daughter turned one month old, and her game feels solid.
“It is going to make it easier [to make my first start since last October] since I know the course, and it’s so great that I can stay at home and play a professional event before the season starts. Plus, extra practice at Old American,” said Lang, who is looking forward to the 2020 VOA Classic rescheduled for Dec. 3-6.
The 2016 U.S. Women’s Open champion isn’t the only major champion in this year’s Texas Women’s Open field. Two-time major champion and former World No. 1, as well as Texas resident, Stacy Lewis, is also competing for the first time since a T34 finish at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Lang and Lewis are joined by Celine , Maria , Yu Liu, Kristen Gillman, Piller, Lindsey Weaver, 2020 Tour rookie Son and Cheyenne Knight, who returns to the course where she became a Rolex First-Time winner last year.
Knight said she hasn’t competed since the Tour’s Australian event swing, so when she heard about the Women’s Open in her home state, “it was a no brainer for me.” With her mom on the bag, Knight says she has a renewed sense of focus, but is looking forward to getting “back to the office.”
“The main goal I have for myself is to be 100% committed over every shot. That’s always my expectation and goal for myself. To stay in the present, be mentally tough and committed,” said Knight. “I’ve missed being able to do my so I am going to have some fun.”
A little more than 750 miles up the road from Old American Golf Club, the CoBank Colorado Women’s Open hosts an additional opportunity for Tour players to dust off any tournament rust. This week, Green Valley Ranch in Denver will feature a field including Carlota Ciganda and Haley Moore, who have won a combined three Cactus Tour events during the LPGA Tour hiatus, Kim Kaufman, Jenny Coleman and Colorado native Jennifer Kupcho.
Kupcho, who’s been practicing in Arizona, is thrilled to be able to compete in her backyard again, now as a LPGA Tour member. “I honestly didn’t think that would happen when I turned pro so I’m glad to be back home,” said Kupcho, who made the decision to play this week on May 1. “I’m just excited to get back to competing and feeling the jitters that you feel over the first tee shot or putts. That’s the stuff I miss about competition so I’m just excited to go play.”
Like Son in The Colony and Moore in Denver, Jillian Hollis is another hopeful 2020 rookie looking to get back to competing. She said the decision to play in the Colorado Women’s Open was one she really had to think about, but the strict guidelines for coronavirus procedures, as well as rules and regulations put in the place by the tournament, made her feel safe enough to travel and compete.
“I have been itching to get back to competitive golf, but also very patient and content with this time off,” said Hollis, who earned Tour status for this year after finishing No. 5 on the Symetra Tour’s 2019 Race to the Card. “I’ve really been able to sharpen parts of my game that needed more attention and work on some swing changes that I wouldn’t haven’t been able to do on the road.”
Hollis said there are no real expectations this week. It’s a chance to see where one’s game needs improvement, especially under competitive pressure, a sentiment echoed by the competitors in Texas and Colorado. But still, for players like Lang, there’s an air of excitement to be back playing the sport she loves.
“I have zero expectations [this] week,” said Lang. “I am just happy to be playing and feeling good.”