It’s July 4, the day before 2008 Littleton High School graduate Becca Huffer tees off in the U.S. Women’s Open. She’s confident, comfortable and not showing the nerves that would be apropos for an amateur golfer playing in her first major.
But being that Huffer, 22, was paired with Korea’s Mi Jung Hur and Canada’s Isabelle Beisiegel in the final group of the opening round, teeing off at 2:42 p.m. local time at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis., it would be easy for those nerves to knot her up.
“With the three or four tee times in front of her there will probably be just the remnants of the gallery waiting to follow. There probably won’t be too much of a crowd presence,” Huffer’s caddie and former high school coach Kevin Burdick said prior to the tournament.
That said, there was little doubt, Burdick said, the crowd at last week’s 67th annual U.S. Women’s Open would be the most people Huffer has ever played in front of. But she wasn’t worried. All Huffer wanted to do was play.
“Being here this week is a great experience. (But) I’m glad to get out there and play for real after three days of practice,” Huffer said.
It’s no wonder because golf has been kind to Huffer, especially since she started playing professional events this spring.
“So far so good,” said Huffer, who placed second in the Colorado Open last month to earn a $6,350 payday. “And qualifying for this tournament. It’s been pretty exciting.”
Huffer qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open with a two-round 145 score at The Broadmoor’s West Course in Colorado Springs on June 3. The simple fact that she would be playing in an actual professional event with the big names was enthralling to say the least. But it also, as it turned out, to be the challenge that it was expected to be.
Huffer missed the weekend cut after firing back-to-back rounds of 79 and 82 on the 6,984-yard course to finish tied for 133rd with a 17-over 161. But even before the tournament commenced, the Notre Dame graduate with a degree in industrial design was prepared to use the tournament as a learning tool.
“I think it will help me learn a lot about my game, get around the course better,” Huffer said. “Every experience helps getting out there.”
It probably also didn’t hurt that Huffer had a familiar face in Burdick coming along for the ride, helping out where he can.
“He keeps me loose out there. It’s fun being out there with him,” Huffer said.
And Burdick, Littleton’s boys and girls head golf coach, is having a blast himself.
“I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun,” said Burdick, who has served as Huffer’s caddie every summer since she graduated from Littleton High. “I’m watching a terrific golfer hit the ball and being a part of it. I hope to help her be better.”
It’s hard to imagine that she could get much better. After all Huffer, from the moment she was a freshman at LHS, said Burdick, she’s been No. 1 in the state. She proved that by becoming a four-time letter-winner, two-time state champion and being named the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Female Athlete of the Year in 2008.
She followed that with Big East Conference freshman of the year honors in 2009 and all-league honors all four years at Notre Dame. She capped college with her first and only victory last October at the Hoosier Fall Invitational in Carmel, Ind.
The next step is LPGA qualifying school, a three-stage endurance test from September to December in Florida. Her game is getting more consistent. She could add a little more distance to go with an improving short game. But for Becca Huffer getting her LPGA card is the next obstacle in a golf career that has seen few limits.