Each week throughout the year we will spotlight one Symetra Tour player and provide an in depth look into her life - both on and off the course. Up next in "This week is all about..." series is Olivia Jordan-Higgins.
Jordan-Higgins just needs one more storyline
The small island of Jersey is a part of the United Kingdom, located in the English Channel hard by the Normandy coast of France. Symetra Tour golfer Olivia Jordan-Higgins says the 100,000 inhabitants of her homeland are proud of their neighborly seclusion away from the political rumbling of Great Britain and Europe.
“It was such a cool place to grow up,” Jordan-Higgins said. “You knew most of the people and my high school class had only 30 to 40 people. It was a nice way of life.”
You’ve heard of the Jersey cows that are celebrated for their rich milk. They originated centuries ago on the 45 square-mile island.
Golf also has a deep historical niche here. With only three 18-hole courses and three nine-holers, it may surprise you to know that the early 20th century duo of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, foils of Francis Quimet in the 1913 U.S. Open made even more famous by the 2005 movie “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” hailed from Jersey. Vardon, the six-time British Open winner, learned the game at Royal Jersey Golf Club.
The laid-back culture has been a key ingredient in helping Jordan-Higgins sustain the rigors of the Symetra Tour’s stretch run. She moved to the United States to play college golf at Charleston (S.C.) Southern University, another small place to feel comfortable. Yes, she still has a preference for milk, even when residing in Charleston and playing golf in the United States. And, like Vardon, she learned the sport at Royal Jersey, the seaside course that prominently displays a statue of Vardon out front and has multiple pictures throughout the clubhouse.
The storybook ascension to the upper ranks of professional golf just needs one more storyline. For a third consecutive Symetra Tour season, Jordan-Higgins is so close.
“I’ve learned a lot from the last two years,” Jordan-Higgins said this week as she prepared to play in the Garden City (Kan.) Charity Classic, the penultimate tournament on the 2014 Symetra Tour schedule. “The big thing for me is I have to have fun on the golf course. It all comes down to the mental game for me. I can’t try too hard, put myself under too much pressure or get too serious. I have really tried to relax lately.”
It worked quite well last week when Jordan-Higgins won the Prairie Band Casino & Resort Charity Classic, her second Symetra Tour title, to move to 18th on the money list. The top 10 earn LPGA cards for 2015.
To understand why Jordan-Higgins has such a carefree nature heading into the final two events, you must dig into what happened the last two seasons:
- 2012: Standing 12th on the money list entering the final event in Daytona Beach, Fla., Jordan-Higgins attended the pro-am party at the famous Daytona International Speedway.
“It had been raining and I slipped but didn’t fall,” Jordan-Higgins said. “But I knew something was wrong.”
After an opening 77, she was forced to withdraw and missed her LPGA card by just more than $7,000.
- 2013: Ranked sixth with two weeks left and eighth entering the last event in Daytona Beach, she missed the last two cuts. When Perrine Delacour shot a final-round 66 in Daytona, she moved from 20th to eighth and bumped Jordan-Higgins to 11th, a mere $114 out of 10th.
“To be really honest, the pressure got to me,” Jordan-Higgins said. “I tried too hard. I thought about the money way too much. I didn’t focus on the job at hand – playing golf.”
Now she rides a streak of six consecutive under-par rounds and an 18-under-par total in finishes of fifth and first. Only $6,700 separates her from 10th place. Low-key caddie Jeff Heikkinen, from Kiawah Island, S.C., near Charleston, has been on her bag for the last two starts. Her mother makes the traditional season-ending visit from Jersey to Daytona next week, hopefully with better news to share.
“Very few people in the world can say they play golf for a living,” Jordan-Higgins said. “That’s definitely been my main focus the last part of the year, to remind myself of that.”