ROGERS, Ark. —
There is arguably no bigger name in Women’s Golf right now than Maria Fassi.
The former Razorback and reigning NCAA champion has made every cut in her first three professional tournaments, but it’s her energy and passion that draws attention.
Her caddie Gary Matthews, who has caddied for players like Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwarzel, says her presence reminds him or an early Tiger Woods. Stacy Lewis says she’s a “once in a generation” kind of player. The early praise and expectations don’t intimidate Maria, they fuels her.
“I would have never said anything like that about myself, and just hearing people say that it’s just really exciting,” Maria Fassi said on Thursday before the opening round of the Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship, “And at the same time I feel like it’s sort of a responsibility I have now, not to keep up with their expectations, but I know that I can accomplish so many things, so its a motivation for me to work harder.”
She has big goals for herself, something that is not at all out of reach, but she’s still learning the in’s and outs of being a professional.
“Just learning how to practice and learning how to be efficient has been key. I feel like and I’ve had to change a lot of things and be OK with that change, and that’s been one of the biggest challenges.” says Fassi.
One of the biggest appeals about Maria Fassi as a player is her strength and her aggressive approach. This week they’ve moved some tee boxes back at certain holes making the course play a little longer. For a player that loves hitting her driver, Fassi is all about the change.
“I really feel like some of them really fit me a lot better, like #4, the par four, they moved it back so now that bunker is not really in play for me anymore. I can just aim there and hit normal driver without worrying about it.”
She’s playing along 5 other former Hogs this week. Arkansas Volunteer Assistant Coach Stacy Lewis is now a competitor. But she still a mentor and role model for Fassi.
“At the US Open my first start she was very, very helpful. I was practicing and it was like 110 degrees outside and she was like ‘hey, go home. You don’t need to be here, You have done the work just go rest,’ and she was like, ‘I’m not asking you, I’m telling you to do,’ and I’m like, ‘OK, ill go home.'”
She says she can’t put it into words what it would mean to get her first win on tour here at her second home. She said she told Arkansas Head Coach Shauna Taylor she wants to play for 12+ years, and that will give her 12 or more opportunities to win here.
However, it’s probably not going to take that long.
Fassi tees off at 8:43am on Friday.