OTTAWA — Most freshmen spend their first week of university buying books and meeting new people. Lauren Zaretsky is playing in her first LPGA Tour event.
The 18-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., delayed her arrival at Texas Tech by a week so she could play at the CP Women's Open. Betting on herself has paid dividends as Zaretsky is the only Canadian amateur to make the cut at the national women's golf championship.
"It just brings good momentum coming in," said Zaretsky of playing the LPGA event before beginning her collegiate career. "I know what it takes to get on the Tour and I think I belong and I've just got to keep grinding."
That grind will continue on Monday when Zaretsky has to travel to Lubbock, Texas, for her first day of school. She'll go from the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club to Toronto's Pearson Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport before finishing her sojourn with an hour-long flight to Lubbock.
Two days later Zaretsky and her Red Raiders teammates will travel to Pebble Beach, Calif., for the Carmel Cup, the first NCAA golf tournament of the season.
"It's going to be tough because it's just a small goodbye to my family, but I know that a lot of success and a lot of hard work is going to come out of it," said Zaretsky, who had her family with her at the CP Women's Open. "So I'll come back even stronger."
Jojo Robertson, the head coach of the Texas Tech women's golf team, said she was already impressed with Zaretsky's maturity and is eager for her to arrive in Lubbock.
"Her team is supportive of her. They're ready for her to get here and join them," said Robertson over the phone. "We never hesitated that she should have the opportunity to play in this great tournament that she's in right now."
Zaretsky won the Canadian women's amateur in 2021 which would normally be an automatic berth into the CP Women's Open. However, the national women's championship was cancelled last year because of COVID-19, so Golf Canada saved her a spot in this year's CP Women's Open allowing her to still benefit from winning the amateur.
She showed some of the fire that won her the women's amateur on Saturday. She pumped her fist after birdieing the final hole of her third round, finishing the day 2-over 73 to sit in a tie for 71st at 1 under.
"It was a struggle the last few holes so to get that putt in for birdie was really nice and to have it in front of the crowd, I had to fist pump," said Zaretsky. "I like the big crowds and I'm very confident I like to do my fist pump."
Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., is the low Canadian after three rounds. She shot a 2-under 69 to finish the day tied for 11th at 9 under. Hamilton's Alena Sharp (68) was tied for 33rd at 6 under.
World No. 5 Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., struggled to a 2-over 73 to drop into a tie for 60th at 3 under. Toronto's Rebecca Lee-Bentham (74) was 77th at 1 over.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2022.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press