I reached out to Rachel through my younger sister Tess, who was a classmate of Rachel’s for 2 years at SAA. Rachel is one of the top Junior and Amateur golfers in the world, currently ranked 14th in the WAGR rankings. At 16 she qualified for the 2017 US Women’s Open where she went on to make the cut and finish T-33. Since then she has won the 2017 Rolex Girls Junior Championship, 2018 Kathy Whitworth Invitational, and the 2018 Polo Golf Junior Classic. The Three Time All-American was named the 2017 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, the 2017 and 2018 USA Today All-USA Golfer of the Year, named to the 2017 Junior Solheim Cup and participated in the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup. Rachel was kind enough to take time out of her busy school and golf schedule to answer some questions.
Rachel, thanks for taking the time to do this interview, lets start with learning about your golf background?
I started playing golf when I was three. My dad would take my sisters and I out to the course every day after work, bribing us with ice cream. I don’t remember a specific moment when I realized that I had the ability to play at a higher level. For as long as I can remember, I have always absolutely loved golf, and there has never been a doubt in my mind that is what I want to do with my life.
Golf and Ice Cream? Sounds perfect. You are currently committed to play at Stanford after you graduate, what sold you on going there?
Going to Stanford had been my dream for years. I love everything about it. The coach’s are amazing, the practice facility is incredible, some of my closest friends are committed to play golf there as well, and Stanford always has one of the top ranked teams each season. Additionally, academics are very important to me, which was another main aspect that drew me to Stanford.
Stanford certainly checks all of the boxes. You have had a ton of success already in your young career, was there a moment in particular when it all clicked?
I cannot remember a certain moment in particular when it all clicked in my career so far. I have just tried to enjoy every experience every step of the way and work hard so that I will be able to keep having these unbelievable experiences.
You competed in the US Women’s Am. as well as the U.S. Women’s Open. What was it like teeing it up with the pro’s in the biggest tournament of the year?
The U.S. Women’s Open was a week that I will undoubtedly remember the rest of my life. Qualifying for it was a dream come true, but playing in it exceeded my expectations. It was unreal to have the chance to play with players that I had grown up watching on TV. On Sunday I got paired with Lexi Thompson, who I had looked up to for as long as I can remember. I was absolutely starstruck playing with her. I did not know what to expect from the pros going into the tournament, but all of them were so kind and supportive, and they treated me liked I belonged there.
It’s great to see professionals be so welcoming to amateurs. I saw that you got to meet Tiger Woods when you were over at the Junior Ryder Cup, what was that whole experience like in France?
The time I got to spend in France was also an experience I will never forget. My experience playing in the Evian Championship paralleled my experience at the U.S Women’s Open. The course was so beautiful, and I was still starstruck playing with the pros. I could not believe that on Sunday I was paired with both Jutanugarn sisters. I had been a fan of them before, but after seeing how friendly and kind they are, I became an even bigger fan. The Junior Ryder Cup in Paris was such a special week. It was such an honor to represent the United States alongside my best friends, and to make the clinching putt to seal the win for the USA felt unreal. Having the chance to meet the Ryder Cup team, players like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, and to play le Golf National was an unbelievable way to end an already amazing week.
Watching it on TV was incredible, I can’t even imagine being there and being apart of it. Is there anything in the world of golf (product, story, player, etc.) that is particularly enticing to you at the moment?
Watching Tiger Woods’ return has been amazing to watch, and I am really excited to see what he continues to do.
We are huge Tiger fans at Tight Lies so I agree completely. What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced thus far as a golfer?
The greatest challenge for me has been dealing with the pressure of expectations from myself and others. I feel like everyone expects me to play great every time I step out on the course, and I feel like I am letting everyone down if I don’t play well. I am really hard on myself, but I am starting to handle the pressure better.
What has been the most rewarding moment for you?
The most rewarding moment was to sink the clinching putt on 18 for the US to win the Junior Ryder Cup. My whole team was standing on the side of the green, and as soon as the putt dropped, they all stormed the green. I will never forget that feeling. Golf is usually in individual sport, so it feels so much more rewarding to win for my team, especially when representing the United States.
That is always the coolest thing for me to watch at team events is how a group of individuals can come together so quickly and support one another. What’s next for you as a golfer?
For the next couple years, I’m just going to enjoy my time playing junior and amateur golf before I head to Stanford. After I graduate Stanford, I’ll turn pro. I don’t want to get ahead of myself; I’m just going to try to enjoy very step of the way.