BRYAN, Texas – Anyone waiting for Marta Silva Zamora to get nervous this week during the Division I Women’s Golf Championship may be waiting a little while.
For a college junior, Silva Zamora, playing as an individual in this year’s championships for the University of Georgia, has a resume that is not only impressive, but equally diverse. She’s the top-ranked female player in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin poll and the reigning SEC Golfer of the Year. She’s also the defending Spanish amateur champion, she once bypassed a five-figure check earned on the golf course and she’s dabbled in reality television.
Seriously. Nothing bothers this girl.
“I guess I just put everything aside,” she said. “I just try to not let things bother me.”
So Marta, how exactly do you do that?
“I have no idea,” she said with a chuckle. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just lucky enough to be able to do it. I need to stay focused on my game.”
Watching Silva Zamora play the game may help you know that luck is not anything she needs. Even if she doesn’t win the individual medal this week, she’s likely to make school history. Silva Zamora arrives in College Station with a stroke average of 71.48, well under the current single-season record of 72.63 set by Taylor Leon in 2006-07. In short, she would break the record even if she were to finish the week at 35-over par.
That’s hardly likely since she’s at 1-under through the first round despite an uncharacteristic double bogey on No. 18 to end her round. After the double, there was just a second of frustration, but it was tempered soon enough after a hug from her father, Jesus Silva.
“I want to break this thing right now,” she said starting at her bag, half-smiling, “but I played well. It wasn’t easy. It’s pretty windy, so I played good.”
Silva Zamora has five individual wins for Georgia this season – two shy of the school’s career win mark held by Vicki Goetze and current Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor. She’s also staring at the possibility of being the national player of the year.
But she’s not thinking about it.
“I don’t really think when I make shots that ‘Oh, you have to make this to get player of the year,” she said. “I just try to play my game.”
And that big check she gave up? She shot 6-under 282 to tie for fifth – and bypass a check for Euro-14,460 (approximately $22,600 at exchange rates at that time) – at the Tenerife Ladies’ Open in June 2008.
How hard was it to give up all that money? Not surprisingly, she wasn’t fazed. What’s more, Silva Zamora isn’t really in any hurry to make golf her job.
“I really want to just finish my major [speech communications] and I’m not really in a hurry to turn pro,” Silva Zamora said. “The plan is after I’m done for me to play [LPGA] q-school. But really, I’ll like to figure out a way to spend an extra year at school.”
It’s not like she has any shortage of things to do. Next week, she’ll defend her title at the Spanish Amateur championship, a topic that brought a special glimmer to her eye.
“It’s the biggest thing you can win in Spain,” she said. “I’ve played in it for years and years and years. I was lucky enough to win it last year and hopefully I can win it again this year.”
One thing Silva Zamora probably would not like to spend any more time doing is reality television. She was a member of the Golf Channel reality show, “School of Golf” during her senior year of high school.
“It was really weird. It’s so awkward because it wasn’t really a reality show. We’re there kind of doing our thing and they tell you to act normal and then the cameras come and of course, you’re not going to act normal because the camera is right here in your face.”
“It was an experience,” she said. “But I don’t think I would do it again.”