Sport

Golfer Su Oh on keeping her game simple and trying to find the right balance amid a crazy life on the road with the LPGA tour. By Richard Cooke.
Credit: Joe Robbins / Getty Images

Swing shift: Su Oh, 22, golfer

I was born in Korea, and the whole family moved to Australia when I was eight. I started Grade 3 in Australia. I didn’t even know what golf was then. But my dad was a master. He loves golf. Melbourne had great courses, so he just went out and played a lot and one day I just followed him, and that’s how I started playing golf. I was about nine when I started playing.

I think I’m actually more of a natural player, but I know I had some things in my swing that I wanted to change. You’ve got to be a good ball striker to be consistent, or to compete week to week on tour. I’ve realised that, so maybe that’s why. I like things very simple – I don’t really like it when it gets too complicated.

Everybody is so good now. It’s really tough out there. One shot could wind up being a 20-spot difference sometimes. Two under would be something like high-20th, and then one under is 47th. It’s really jam-packed every week. That’s why you just don’t know who’s gonna win, but you can always tell the top players. We’ve had a lot of different winners this year so far.

If you’re on tour, you enjoy it. You’re obviously playing against other people, but it’s not like tennis where it’s so one on one. When you’re playing down the stretch it’s always that thrill. I’m nervous, but you always remember the shots that you hit really well under pressure. There’s always the moment. Every single round there’s a moment where you know if you make that, you have the momentum.

A lot of friends back home, they are golfers, but not professionally. Maybe a couple are professional, but a lot of them I’ve met through golf, but not professionally. And I still have some schoolfriends. What friends ask me depends on how close they are. “What’s it like travelling in and out?” is a common question. I guess it sounds pretty glamorous, travelling every week to different places. It is nice, but sometimes you just want to stay in one place.

We don’t really get to see parts of different countries other than golf courses. Unless we make time, we don’t really get to see the surroundings.

A tournament takes four days, and a lot of people say, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” A lot can happen between the four days, so I think that’s why it’s so hard to put a great 72 holes together. That’s why it’s hard to win.

I was the No. 1 amateur player in the world, for a little bit. The career is a different shape for women. We have to take time off if we want a family. A few people have asked me that question, and I have no idea. I’m just going day by day.

The tough part of the job is I’m in my 20s and I’m constantly travelling. There’s no stability in my life. Balancing that is tough, but I feel a lot more balanced now. This is my third year on tour. For my first two years it was just... It takes a little while to get used to it. Last year I sort of started to realise how crazy the life can be. So you have just got to find a good balance.

When you have a good group of friends on tour it really helps. When you have similar interests, and sometimes you can stay together so you rent out a house, like Airbnb, which has gotten a lot more popular. You cook a lot of the nights, and it’s a little bit more homey than a hotel room.

I have no idea why there are so many good Korean golfers. We also have a really good group of Australians playing on the LPGA right now. Not just Korean–Australians. Before it was just Webbie [Karrie Webb] who was so dominant, but there weren’t too many Australians. Right now there are six, and you have to fight for the spot in the UL International Crown. We qualified fifth this year, which is the highest we’ve ever qualified for the tournament.

The Karrie Webb Series was my first experience of the US Open, and that’s really the pinnacle of golf. When you have any questions for Karrie, she’s always very open to communicating whenever she’s been out here. She’s definitely been an influence on me.

This week’s highlights…

Golf: The Evian Championship

Until Sunday, Evian Resort Golf Club, Évian-les-Bains, France

AFL: Semi-final – Collingwood v GWS Giants

Saturday, 7.25pm (AEST), Melbourne Cricket Ground

NRL: Semi-final – Rabbitohs v Dragons

Saturday, 7.40pm (AEST), ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park

Rugby union: Wallabies v Argentina

Saturday, 8pm (AEST), Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast

• Davis Cup World Group playoff round – Australia v Austria

Saturday, 10pm (AEST); Sunday, 7pm, Messe Congress Graz, Graz, Austria

Motorsport: Sandown 500 – Supercars Championship, Race 24

Sunday, 1.20pm (AEST), Sandown Raceway, Melbourne

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 15, 2018 as "Swing shift". Subscribe here.

Richard Cooke
is a journalist and writer for television. He is The Saturday Paper's sports editor.