Hauser getting her professional golf career started locally
Sitting behind a desk, working the 9-to-5 in Minneapolis, Minn., it seemed as if a dream had faded for Hartland native Jessica Hauser.
A former Rolex Junior All-American at Ohio State University, she had wanted to turn professional after graduating from in 2009, but a wrist injury suffered after hitting a tree root and the painful tendinitis that followed forced her out of the game.
Doctors told her rest was the only cure, yet she played on, taking cortisone shots to mask the pain. It never truly subsided, and she took a job with C.H. Robinson Worldwide, a logistics provider based in Minneapolis, Minn.
"I figured I'd be done with competitive golf, so I got a job," she said.
Hauser returned to golf recreationally in the summer of 2011 and was surprised to find that she did not feel any pain. Soon enough, thoughts of returning full-time began to creep into her head.
On a whim, and with little practice, she entered LPGA Tour Qualifying School last summer and shot 76-78, missing the 36-hole cut by seven shots.
"Looking back it was not a good way to go about it because I had not been playing or practicing," she laughed. "I did OK down there and I was like, I haven't done anything, and I just did OK at LPGA qualifying."
She stashed the clubs in a usual Minnesota winter before heading to Florida for a quick weekend golf getaway with her father.
"I was so happy," she said. "We were on the 12th hole one day and I was 3-under and he looks at me and he's like, you know, tell me again why you're not playing professional golf?"
She gave her company notice in February, she left for good in March, dropped off her belongings in Hartland, and then continued on to Florida to play on the Suncoast Series, a women's mini-tour in Orlando, Fla.
The tournament has had past champions such as LPGA Tour players Stacy Lews, Maria Hjorth, Laura Diaz and Jane Park. In fact, Hjorth, a five-time LPGA Tour winner and Solheim Cup member, has won twice on the tour already this year.
"Looking back on that again, I'm not sure if it was great to just jump right into competition but you know, you've got to start competing at some point," she said. "I kind of threw myself right into. It was good for me to get out and practice and play and compete."
Once the weather turned in Wisconsin May, Hauser came back to Wisconsin and began working with North Hills Country Club professional Eddie Terasa. Then in mid-June, Hauser won her first event as a professional in capturing the 16th Wisconsin State Women's Open, a 36-hole competition at Geneva National Golf Club with 52 players in the field.
She shot a 3-over 72-75 to beat Jackie Shepherd of Delafield by two shots, earning $800 along with the trophy.
"It was my first money earned. It was my first check," she said. "I had been waiting for it and I kept hoping it was going to come and to do it in my home state, it was great for me. It was a huge confidence and showing that I wasn't completely crazy to leave my stable, good job and chase a dream."
Hauser is now attempting to capture her second state open – the Phil Kosin Illinois Women's Open at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, Ill.
It's one of the largest women's tournaments in the Midwest and allows golfers from all around the country to participate, resulting in a field loaded with top collegiate golfers and professionals. Waunakee amateur Lisbeth Brook is the only other player with Wisconsin ties competing in the Illinois Women's Open.
Players from 10 states and two countries will be represented. The field consists of 93 players, including 23 professionals.
"Wisconsin, we have a good open and it's nice, but we don't allow other people from other states to play in it," Hauser said. "It just makes it a much bigger field, a bigger purse and honestly women's golf needs that. There's just not that many events to play in. For me, this summer, because I don't have much (Symetra) Tour status – I have some but it's not good enough to get into events consistently – I have to play in these state Opens. It's just a great opportunity for me to get out there and work on my game and compete and try to make some money."
Hauser played in the event once during her time at Ohio State and remembers the course fondly, but it has since undergone a renovation by original architect Ray Hearn. European-style pot bunkers with riveted faces now dot the course, and additional water has been brought into play on several holes.
"I really liked the course when I played it and there is a lot of risk-reward," Hauser said. "And, I tend to kind of like to take risks sometimes. I think it's a really good course for me."
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