Big Break Ireland Competitor
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Current Residence: Tempe, Ariz.
Home Course: The Legacy Golf Club
College: Mt. San Antonio Junior College / San Jose State University
Profession: Golf Professional
In golf circles, Nina Rodriguez is a late bloomer to the game. Basketball was Rodriguez’ sport of choice, and she had dreams of one day joining the likes of Tina Thompson and Lisa Leslie in the WNBA. Rodriguez played basketball throughout high school, and was looked at by several colleges and universities to continue her basketball career.
It wasn’t until her junior year of high school that Rodriguez took up golf. Her father introduced her to the sport, and she soon realized that she had a natural talent. She picked up the game quickly, trimming her handicap down to single digits by the time she graduated.
Rodriguez had plans to play basketball at Mt. San Antonio Junior College following high school. Without her knowledge, her father also set up a meeting with the golf coach to talk to his daughter about being a dual-sport athlete, which she accepted. It was during her freshman year of college that she truly fell in love with golf, and, at 19-years of age, she quit basketball to focus solely on golf.
“It was a huge adjustment switching from basketball to golf,” said Rodriguez. “Basketball is such an active and contact sport, where in golf, patience is key. I wasn’t used to that.”
Rodriguez graduated from Mt. San Antonio and transferred to San Jose State University, where she competed for the school’s golf team for the balance of her college career.
“I learned a lot at San Jose State,” said Rodriguez. “I didn’t have the years of experience that my teammates had, but I didn’t necessarily feel I was playing catch-up, either. I told myself mentally that if I wanted to succeed at golf, I needed to be patient and that I would get beat a lot to get there.”
Following graduation, Rodriguez immediately turned professional, packed up and moved to Arizona to compete on the Cactus Tour. She remained patient, had moderate success on the Tour and in 2011 achieved full-time status on the LPGA Futures Tour.
“I feel like I am improving each and every day,” said Rodriguez. “Patience has been key for me in the short time I have been playing golf, and it has worked. The Big Break is all about being patient, being in the moment. If I stick to that mentality, I feel like I will be the one to beat.”
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