The casual fan - the one who can name a handful of LPGA Tour players and enjoys the television coverage but who has never dived too deep into the women’s game – might have tuned into the final round of the Amundi Evian Championship and said, “Who is Sophia Schubert?” A few minutes later, that question might have been followed by, “How do I get that putting stroke?”
The answer to the first is simple: Schubert, a former University of Texas standout and winner of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur championship, is a 26-year-old rookie from Oak Ridge, Tennessee who spent the last three years honing her craft on the Epson Tour. After college and a success Curtis Cup appearance at Quaker Ridge in New York, Schubert struggled. In 2019, her first year as a pro, she only made $12,986 and didn’t break the top 90 on the Road to the LPGA. Some wondered if she would call it quits after she donned a headset and showed tremendous promise as an on-course commentator for Golf Channel.
But she gutted it out, carrying her own golf bag, driving to events, staying in host housing, and getting incrementally better. In 2020 she made every cut and finished in the top 30 on the Epson Tour money list. A year later, and just about the time many players realize that they have a career choice to make, Schubert had nine top-10 finishes and won the Carolina Golf Classic presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. She finished fourth on the Epson Tour money list to earn LPGA membership for the 2022 season.
Still, in the first half of her rookie year on the LPGA Tour she missed five cuts and hadn’t finished better than a tie for 12th. However, the trendlines seemed to be moving in the right direction. She arrived in France having made three cuts in a row, including at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. It appeared as though she could play well for three rounds (the typical week on the Epson Tour) but was having trouble adjusting to 72 holes multiple weeks in a row.
Through it all, the ups and downs, the joys and tears, Schubert remained a positive force, the kind of player who never seemed to have a bad day who never said an unkind word to anyone. No one who has witnessed her career can recall her ever losing her temper, being curt with a fan or volunteer, or blowing off a request. She greets every person with kind eyes and a magnetic smile, the sort of personality that draws you close.
As for the second question the casual fan might have – the one about the putting stroke – it’s always been there. If there is one aspect of Schubert’s game everyone should emulate, it’s the languid, pendulum stroke where she allows the face to open and the toe to release. Not only does the rhythm of her motion never change, she never lets the situation dictate the stroke. Schubert always gives gravity a chance. Every roll from inside 20 feet looks like it’s dying when it gets to the hole.
You might not have seen her until her stellar performance in Evian, but with a preternaturally calm temperament and a putting stroke that would make Ben Crenshaw smile, those who don’t know Schubert will likely be hearing more of her in the coming months and years.
“You know, I want to cry,” she said after coming up one shot short on Sunday. “I want to cry tears of happiness. I'm proud of myself, proud of everyone that's helped me get to this point. I came just short, but I know that I'll be back, so I'm really happy.
“I have a lot of support back home and they've been telling me over and over again, you can do this. Just be confident.
“I fixed my clubs a little bit, the lofts and lies. I fixed those a few weeks ago and I’m just hitting the ball straighter.
“And lastly, I'm trusting in the process, trusting in God's plan for me. Whatever He wants is going to happen, and I take ease in that. … I think the last few holes coming in, I just had this sense of peace. So, I just hit every shot and kept going.”
She is learning to fly, taking up a Cessna 150 with an instructor when she’s home. And she travels with her dog whenever possible. Other than that, you now know everything you need to about Sophia Schubert, most of which can be summed up in her last quote.
She keeps going, no matter how rough the road. That and a putting stroke worth mimicking are more than enough reasons to follow her.