Paige is just 23. Her favorite stroke is the flop shot. Tiger looks good in a baseball cap; everybody has their niche, right?
Spiranac, however, rightly or wrongly, unlike Woods, looks great in anything. And watching her drive the ball, with her total torso turn, astonishing, given her previous broken-knee injury, and seeing her big backswing, with driver almost below parallel to the ground, à la John Daly in his heyday - gives one the impression she is headed for bigger and better things in her golfing game.
(And her swing is smooth, with no Jim Furyk hitch to boot, and nor does she swing out of her shoes, like the King, Arnold Palmer, used to do.)
When not amassing some worldwide 717,000 followers on Instagram with eye-popping pictures, she’s grounded, having to budget like the rest of us. She had been living in both San Diego and Arizona but is moving to the latter as San Diego is too expensive.
And she’s aware her golf game isn’t top notch. She knows people took bets on her finishing last in tournaments (or at least they did for the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters) and she, demonstrating the wonderful - yet rare - attribute of not taking oneself too seriously, wants to (and did) blast their financial futures out of the water by coming “...second last or third last...”
So she can laugh at herself, and her situation, a position a mentally healthy and hale person - wants to be in. And actually, for the record, in Dubai, she shot 77 and 79. Missed the cut. Out of 108 entrants, she tied for 101st.
It was her first start as a pro.
The blond bombshell has come quite a ways since that tournament, though given that she played in the U.S Girls’ Junior Championship way back when, she might not have been too shocked when she got her first professional tournament win on the Cactus Tour at the Orange Tree Golf Resort. She finished with a 68, beating the number-one ranked amateur worldwide, Hannah O’Sullivan, on the first hole of a playoff. While the Cactus Tour is a development tour, with three rounds and no cut line, and is not part of the LPGA, it does feature up-and-coming golfers. It’s not for hackers.
Paige points out that her scoring average has improved by four shots. Huge.
Let’s face it, if it weren’t for Paige’s self-promoted lithe body (thanks to running, gymnastics as a kid, training for 36 hours weekly - with lifting, when older, as a pursuit) and languid (thanks to her presence and present persona) poses - and her great looks, build, and athleticism (thanks to god given genes of Dad, Dan, a football free-safety with the 1976 national champions ,University of Pittsburgh Panthers squad, and of Mom, Annette, a professional ballet dancer) she would not have been granted a sponsor’s exemption to play in Dubai at all.
Nor would she have graced the cover of Golf Digest magazine in May 2016. So yes, she’s capitalizing on her assets. This has caused some learned commentary from Juli Inkster, a Hall of Famer, as well as some commoner consternation and, undoubtedly, some sour grapes.
Paige admits she’s not (no pun intended) on par with the playing skills of LPGA pros, though her lowest round ever is a 62, and she shot a 67 as a 15-teener at the Karsten course in Arizona, but she’s aiming to hit that elite LPGA level. And who wouldn’t among us use what edges and advantages we had to reach the top, so long as no ethics were eradicated or laws were violated?
Only 99 % of us.
But only a select few have 91,000+ followers on Twitter and have played a round with iconic, Gary Player. Gary grinned, Paige too, then both got down to push ups.
And now she’s again faced the world’s best. She played in the Ladies Scottish Open. And naysayers won’t like that under the News portion of the Ladies European Tour website her story was featured. It was her first visit to Scotland and her first crack at links golf. After round one she was tied for 67th. She shot 76. She then made the cut - her first on a major tour event - after her second round three over, 75. She finished tied for 58th with a third round 74.
So this very fit, 5’6” woman, is not just heavenly body and blond hair. She, a product of San Diego State University, majoring in communications (and that after home-schooling), was also a part of a golf-trick-shot video that amassed 2.6+ million hits.
And if Paige has her way, she’ll play on the European Ladies Tour, full time. She thinks it’s the best place for her golf game to grow (and thus shrink in scoring.) There, she’ll draw on her hero, American Stacy Lewis, winner of two majors, for inspiration, and will look to golf coach, Tyler Hall, for ingredients.
And we, fans, frenemies, or skeptics, no matter our opinion, now know that Ms. Spiranac has the resolve and apparent talent to continue on her golfing path - regardless of our clapping or slagging. She knows what she wants, has the means and mien to reach it, and that’s a - no matter the final score, great stance, to bring to the game of life.