Alyaa Abdulghany is having herself quite a few days in Atlanta. Perhaps it’s the power of the letter "A."
Or maybe Abdulghany, the 2016 USA Today High School Player of the Year and 2016 Junior Ryder Cup member, is just really good. She began the week with a roller coaster round in Monday’s stroke play, finishing tied for ninth, but she buried what was probably the best shot of the day on the par-five 14th:
Abdulghany said Tuesday she actually thought her putting was her biggest fall on Day 1, despite that stunning conversion late on Monday.
“Yesterday I was just hitting every putt, like, four to six feet too far, so I made sure I practiced today and gave myself the best shots I could,” she said. “When I got to the greens today, I did it a little better.”
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If her Monday was a little bumpy, Abdulghany's Tuesday was smooth like butter. She traded points with Northwestern’s Sarah Cho in the early going before reeling off three straight wins to close the front nine, building what would prove to be an insurmountable lead. It was a glance at what her game could look like as she grows more used to the collegiate level in the coming months and years.
We caught up with Abdulghany after her 3-and-2 match play victory for five quick questions with the freshman:
How’s your first year on campus been, compared to your expectations?
It’s been great, it really has. Coming in as a freshman, you sort of have this expectation that it’ll be really hard to manage time, and practice, and everything, but coming in and getting in all the help we get at USC, I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I had enough time to do everything.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not practicing or in classes?
I love hanging out with my friends and having that social life, but I also like my time to myself. I love reading, I love listening to music, I love working out. Just spending time by myself.
Do you have a favorite book or band?
My favorite book right now is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, it’s absolutely wonderful. And my favorite artist, I don’t know if I have a single favorite one, but I like to listen to a lot of EDM. So that’s sort of my thing.
Is there a pro golfer you like to watch and maybe pattern your game after?
Not to sound arrogant, but no. It’s not that I don’t respect them — they’re professionals, they obviously know what they’re doing — but I feel like I want to be a better me, and there are things I couldn’t see myself doing. I could fall into a trap of being like them instead of being like me. That’s just how I approach it.
What do you think of Tiger Woods’ upcoming return?
I think it’s great. I’ve been such a big fan. I used to go, a long time ago, his Tiger Woods Learning Center, and I think it’s now called the Tiger Woods Foundation? It’s in Anaheim. I used to go there every Saturday, and it was really awesome, so the idea of him coming back, it’s just going to be amazing.