Lauren Stephenson Shows New Perspectives at Pelican Women’s Championship | LPGA

BELLEAIR, FL | A few months ago, Lauren Stephenson’s life away from class was turned upside down when her younger sister Hannah was stricken with cancer. Stephenson continued to play, but her golf game reached a turning point after her second consecutive missed cut at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. She decided it was time to step back and focus on her sister.

After a five-week hiatus, Stephenson got her sister’s blessing to return for the Pelican Women’s Championship. Refreshed, the 25-year-old carded a 4-under 66 in Friday’s opening round.

“Having played poorly in the last two tournaments, by this point my family life had all piled up and I was like, ‘I need a break,'” Stephenson said. “I feel a lot more rejuvenated coming into this week.”

Hannah — just 22 years old and currently in grad school — has had two surgeries and just finished her last radiation session on Friday in Houston. Stephenson prepared for the Pelican Women’s Championship by spending the week leading up to the tournament with Hannah during a round of treatment.

Although Hannah is not a golf coach, she was able to teach her older sister an important lesson: golf is just a game.

“My sister is struggling with a cancer scare so it hasn’t been golfing for me the past few months,” Stephenson said. “So, it just felt good to feel blessed to be out here and have that attitude that golf doesn’t matter. We all have real lives when we’re outside of golf. Knowing that it’s just a golf tournament and I’m just here to have fun gives me a whole different perspective. I’m just super grateful to be here.”

Stephenson’s new attitude certainly had a positive impact on her game and allowed her to bounce back quickly after her first bogey hole. The American carded six birdies and just two bogeys for her minus four opening round.

“The first hole I hit didn’t respond the way I wanted it to and the green 10 is just crazy so it didn’t really upset me,” Stephenson said. “I just moved on, attributing it to a learning hole.”

Stephenson will be taking her improved mindset with her everywhere over the next few weeks. Stephenson, ranked No. 76 in the Race to CME Globe, has a strong performance this week to secure her ticket to the coveted year-end tournament. Though Stephenson would love to go, she won’t break a sweat if she doesn’t make it.

“Honestly, I’ve booked an entire Pro-Am to go to Pebble Beach next week,” Stephenson said. “I’m like, ‘If I can make it, great. If not, I’ll just go on vacation with my sister and friends.’ I have a chance and I feel like this year has been a great year overall, not exactly where I wanted to be, but it’s never bad to have a chance for CME. I also know that if I don’t make it, I won’t be super disappointed.”

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