The Bank of Hope Founders Cup is special for Caroline Inglis.
Prior to Inglis’ freshman year at Oregon, she was one of ten college-bound golfers that received the Marilynn Smith Scholarship, handed out by one of the 13 LPGA founders.
On Thursday, Smith, one of two founders at the tournament, tracked down Inglis.
“That was really special, I just gave her a big hug,” said Inglis after a 68 to get to 5-under through two rounds. “I just said ‘thank you for everything you’ve done for not only me, but for women’s golf’ because she is such an incredible pioneer. It was so special to meet her and she is just a sweetheart."
Maybe Smith gave some good mojo to Inglis, who made three birdies over her first six holes on Friday and turned in a bogey-free scorecard.
“I hit it to a foot on the first hole so that was a nice start,” explained Inglis. “I was in the afternoon yesterday so it was pretty windy so it was nice to play in such perfect conditions so I felt like I could be more aggressive.”
Inglis, who played the Epson Tour most of 2017, has played through a torn labrum in her right shoulder the last two years. In May of last year, the doctors found a few more small tears. She had options and decided to battle through in the middle of the season.
This offseason, after earning her LPGA Tour card at Qualifying School, she contemplated surgery, but decided against it in order to play a full LPGA schedule.
“I have talked to some girls that have had labrum injuries and some have been out as long as eight months with surgery and that is part of the reason I didn’t want (surgery). I have to limit the reps. It’s (injury) annoying, but that’s golf.”
Inglis said she still deals with some pain, but feels a lot better. She got a PRP injection right after Qualifying School.
Inglis still managed to finish 19th on the Epson Tour last year and played some of her best golf after discovering the tear.
“Graduating from college and going out on Epson (Tour), there was so much that was new,” explained Inglis. “By the middle of the season, I felt comfortable. It’s a big adjustment from college to professional."
In her third start this season on the LPGA, she’s starting to feel more and more comfortable.
Inglis is able to keep her injury in perspective in part because of the hardship she’s dealt with off the course. Her father, William, was diagnosed with Leukemia while she was a senior in high school. He lost his battle in 2013.
“He got me into the game and whenever I’m on the course I feel him and it is special,” said Inglis. “I feel like if he could see me now he’d be like ‘what you’re on the LPGA?’, but I hope he knows somehow. It definitely helps keep things in perspective that it is just a game.”
Inglis said her dad was a ‘golf fanatic’ and actually a scratch golfer himself.
“He was my biggest fan.”
Inglis’ mom, Laurie, who accompanied her to Australia this year, has been a great support system in helping deal with the loss. She’s also a physical therapist so that helps with the labrum.
For so many reasons, this could be a special weekend for Inglis.