October 1, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
61°F

U.S. Open: Jessica Porvasnik thrilled to compete against the best

PINEHURST, N.C. — Jessica Porvasnik has played in more golf tournaments than she can count.

From dominating the junior circuits to winning a state individual championship for Highland to helping Ohio State capture the Big Ten crown this season, the Hinckley Township native has lived on the links.

This week, however, Porvasnik will play alongside some of her childhood idols during the 69th U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club.

Jessica Porvasnik tees off during the 2012 Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament. The Hinckley Township resident will compete in the U.S. Women’s Open today. (AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE)

Jessica Porvasnik tees off during the 2012 Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament. The Hinckley Township resident will compete in the U.S. Women’s Open today. (AARON JOSEFCZYK / GAZETTE)

“It’s been awesome,” she said in a phone interview after her final practice round Wednesday. “I’ve had a chance meet with players that I’ve looked up to, I’ve been signing autographs and on Monday I got to play with Paula Creamer. It’s been a great week.”

First-round action for Porvasnik will start today at 6:56 a.m. She will play the first two rounds with professionals Weiling Hsu and Erica Popson.

Porvasnik, a four-time Gazette MVP, is one of 19 teenagers that advanced through sectional qualifying. Fellow 18-year-old Minjee Lee of Australia was one of them. She won of the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and is the top-ranked player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Porvasnik earned her spot after taking second in a sectional qualifier in Butler, Pennsylvania, last month. She fired consecutive 73s and finished one shot behind medalist Bailey Tardy of Norcross, Georgia.

Porvasnik is going to approach her first round like any other event.
“There’s going to be a lot of people out here, but I’m sticking to my game plan,” Porvasnik said. “On Monday, it was definitely different, but now that I’m used to it, I’m ready to go.”

Porvasnik also will be one of 25 amateurs playing Pinehurst No. 2, which hosted the men’s U.S. Open last week. The field of 156 will be cut to the lowest 60 scores after 36 holes of the LPGA’s oldest major championship.

Unlike the courses Porvasnik is used to in Northeast Ohio, Pinehurst features playable rough off the greens and more than 100 bunkers on tree-lined fairways.

“It’s going to be a great test of golf,” she said. “There are going to be some good breaks and some bad ones. You just have to accept it and move on. It’s an awesome course, though.”

Ohio State assistant coach Lisa Strom will be on Porvasnik’s bag. Strom turned pro in 2000 and has competed in more than 50 LPGA-sponsored events.

Despite only playing in one event since the end of her freshman season with the Buckeyes, Porvasnik is ready for the challenges of her first major tournament.

“There’s no specific number I’m looking to hit, but I’ve been hitting the ball solid,” she said. “If you put it off the green, there’s no rough here, so you can uses your putter or your No. 7 iron. There are so many options, and that’s what makes it fun.”

Local fans can follow Porvasnik on the tournament’s official website — www.usopen.com/women — or watch ESPN’s coverage over the first two rounds. The final two days will televised on NBC.

“It’s sunk in now,” Porvasnik said. “I’ve been getting good luck texts from friends and teammates, I’ve got family down here watching. This is just a great opportunity to have fun.

“My coach and I have talked about what it will take to (make the cut), and I want always want to do well. You just never know. I look at it as an amazing opportunity, and I’m going to learn and grow from it.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.