Golf therapy for Brianna Do last year came in the form of baking and creative art. It was just after a failure last December to re-qualify for the LPGA at the Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., completed with a fifth-round 78 that pushed her four strokes under the line to earn conditional LPGA status for a third consecutive season.
Frustrated at the door shutting in her face, Do retreated home to Long Beach, Calif., and her home course, public facility Lakewood Country Club. A longtime baking aficionado, she stashed her golf clubs and went to the kitchen. She baked and tried out the goods on the weekend golfers at Lakewood, who were honest with their critique – but mostly positive about the delicious chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes. Additionally, she created detailed new book shelves in her room at home that featured the illuminated words, “Believe,” to inspire her re-entry into golf on the 2015 Symetra Tour.
“It was so good to take a month off,” Do said. “I was just worn out from beating myself up on the golf course. After baking and working on the project in my room, I was great. When I went back to practicing, I wanted to be there, I wanted to get better. I was on a mission.”
Her start to the 2015 season has been dramatic. Finishes of T4, T4 and T9 in the first three tournaments have landed Do sixth on the money list, well within her goal of placing in the top 10 and earning a full LPGA card for 2015. She also leads the Symetra Tour in rounds in the 60s and eagles.
“My goal is to always finish in the top 10, but I’m taking it week by week,” Do said. “I just want to concentrate on where I am every week.”
Do’s entry into golf is a direct hand-me-down from her father, Max. Both her parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in the early 1980s. Max worked at a restaurant in South Carolina and then Ohio, where he was introduced to golf. He moved to California, where he met his wife, Phuong. Max was so hooked on golf that on the eve of their wedding, he announced he was playing golf early the next morning. Phuong was so put off, she woke in the middle of the night and placed the golf clubs behind the rear tire of the car. Max spotted the clubs before backing over them the next morning, but realized it would be a good idea to stay put for the wedding day.
Max occasionally caddies for his daughter – as he did in the season-opening West Coast events – usually with a touch of superstition. When Do won the 2011 USGA Women’s Public Links Championship, Max was one year past cancer treatments and wore the same shirt while caddying over the last few days to bring good luck.
Brianna takes her family’s support to heart – her father has a clean bill of health now. She has visited Vietnam numerous times to visit family members and even laughed through an amateur tournament years ago when Max registered her as being from Vietnam instead of her native Southern California. She one day hopes to help popularize golf more in Vietnam to help many forget about the Vietnam War.
“I believe I’m the only Vietnamese golfer playing on the Symetra Tour or LPGA,” Do said. “There are a few in Asia and a few in college. I would love to make the LPGA fulltime and then be able to give back and start a junior program in Vietnam.”
Lakewood and the Long Beach area are fertile ground for developing top-notch golfers. Champions Tour player Paul Goydos and PGA Tour members John Merrick, John Mallinger and Patrick Cantlay are Long Beach products. Do learned competitive golf in the same junior program that developed Tiger Woods.
Do hopes that soon she will be similarly famous for her worldwide game on the LPGA as for the scrumptious sweets that entice Lakewood golfers and gave the 25-year-old a respite before moving ahead again.