When she was 12 years old, Ohio native Haylee Rae Harford (Leavittsburg, Ohio) competed at TPC River’s Bend for the Junior PGA Championship. This week, she returns to the course for the first time as a professional.
“It’s super exciting and I am really happy to be here,” Harford said. “Anytime you can compete close to home is very comfortable and fun to be in a familiar area. To have family and friends be able to come out here, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“I played in the Junior PGA Championship when I was 12 years old. I think I was the youngest from Ohio to make it to that event so for me, it was a huge deal. It was when I was starting to take my golf career more seriously. I was developing a lot as a person and player. I don’t remember much from the week except Lexi Thompson won. Ever since, I have really looked up to her and followed her career.”
Harford was a four-time All-Southern Conference performer for Furman University prior to starting her rookie year last season. Her finish in Longwood was one of two top-10 finishes in her first season on the “Road to the LPGA.” This year, Harford kicked off the season with a fourth-place finish at the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic and after six starts, she stands at No. 14 in the Race for the Card. She is coming into this week off a T11 finish at the Island Resort Championship, but the week prior she competed in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open where she was reunited with Lexi Thompson for a practice round.
“To be able to just talk with her and ask her questions about her experiences was really special,” said Harford. “She was super kind. I asked her about her daily routine and things like who travels with her on the road. I know her dad travels with her a lot, which is nice that she has him with her. Also, how she manages her time is a huge deal out here on Tour and something I am still getting adjusted to.”