OCALA, FLORIDA | Who the heck is Jenny Coleman? Glance down the leaderboard of the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik and there are a slew of familiar names going into Sunday’s final round. Austin Ernst, the leader by one as the sun set on Saturday, is looking for her third win. Jennifer Kupcho of Augusta National Women’s Amateur fame enters Sunday a shot back while looking for her first. Albane Valenzuela, one of the more heralded rookies of 2020 whose first season was derailed with injury and illness, vaulted up the leaderboard and played herself into the final group.
Tied for third with Valenzuela is the long-hitting UCLA star Patty Tavatanakit, who played well at the Gainbridge LPGA. She has PGA Tour winner Grant Waite as her coach and caddie.
But also tied for third and in the penultimate group on Sunday is a player who had many fans scrambling for their nearest search engine.
She knows she’s unknown. Given her soft voice and camera-shy demeanor, the 28-year-old is okay with it, at least for the time being. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t ready to burst into the spotlight. Jenny first earned her LPGA Tour card in 2017, finishing tied for 29th at Q-School. She bounced back to the Epson Tour where her best finish was a runner-up at the 2019 Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic in New York. She finished third on the Epson Tour money list that year, earning her status for 2020 and 2021. But having never finished better than tied for 26th in an LPGA Tour event and making only the fourth cut of her career, Coleman has the calluses of a consummate grinder. She is unflappable and hardboiled. And, she believes, she is ready.
But there is an even cooler part of Jenny’s story, one that makes her stand out even more than those better-known names ahead of her on the leaderboard.
It is her mirror image.
Walking beside Jenny and working with her on the range this week in Ocala is her identical twin sister, Kristin, one minute older and one inch taller, who has been Jenny’s coach since the girls were in middle school.
But the reverse is also true. Kristin Coleman, who played at the University of Colorado with her sister, has competed on the Epson Tour since 2015. Jenny is her coach.
“At four or five years old, we started the game with our family,” Jenny said. “Our dad would take some lessons and tell us stuff. Then we got to an age where it was like, ‘Okay, I think we can start doing this on our own.’ High school, college, pro, we’re always at the course at the same time and we can...”
At that point Jenny stopped talking and Kristin jumped in to complete the thought the way only a twin can. “We see each other every day and we can kind of see what changed all of a sudden (in our games) and kind of pinpoint it fairly easily,” Kristin said.
“Yeah,” Jenny added.
Their mannerisms, speech patterns, inflections, everything is identical. They are the kind of twins who could have a lot of fun fooling friends if they chose. They grew up just outside Los Angeles and still live with their parents in Rolling Hills Estates in suburban L.A. They are the only siblings and they like the same food – steak or Mexican – and have the same tastes in just about everything. Even their hairstyle is an exact match.
They think their swings are different, though. “She has more of a flattening transition and mine is fairly more one-planed,” Jenny said of her sister. “But a lot of people think we swing pretty similar because our setup and our finish is similar.”
About the only thing different is the number on their golf balls. Jenny only plays even numbers. Kristin plays odds.
When Jenny left Colorado, she held 28 school records. And she was just behind Perrine Delacour and Tavatanakit but ahead of Leona Maguire and Jillian Hollis in her graduating Epson Tour class.
“It's definitely nice to see all the Epson girls, especially my class, Leona, Patty, Perrine and a lot of former (Epson Tour players like Nelly (Korda) and Dana (Finkelstein),” Jenny said. “I mean, there are a lot good names out there showing that Epson Tour is very strong.”
Add Jenny Coleman to that list.
At least her coach thinks she belongs. “She's playing pretty steady,” Kristin said. “She always hits the ball really well, especially her irons. She is doing that for sure. And then a couple of putts are dropping. She's hitting it so close that she's getting a good run at the putts. So, yeah...”
“Definitely my approaches,” Jenny said, picking up where her sister’s sentence trailed off. “My driver is holding steady, hitting lots of fairways. But approaches, just dialing in direction and distance, you’ve got to pick which (holes) you can be aggressive with and which pins you’ve got to just play it safe and take your 20, 30 feet and just move on to the next one.”
So, is the sister nervous watching?
“A little, but not really,” Kristin said. “I'm just hanging out. She's playing solid so I'm not too worried.”
Spoken like the perfect coach, even if the student knew what she was going to say before she said it.