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South African rookie Melissa Eaton in conversation

Tell us something people don’t know about you.

I was born in South Africa but went to college in the US. I’ve been living there ever since I graduated in 2007. I’ve been living in Texas but with me playing out here it will probably be a little different this coming year so we’ll see. I’ll be bouncing around all over.

How did you start with golf?

My mom was a good pro back in South Africa and I have a twin sister, Nicky, and she and I started when we were 12. She would never push us into playing but she said, ‘If you start, you can get a scholarship to the US and all sorts of opportunities. We did that and got hooked. My mom, Coleen Eaton, was a good player in South Africa in the 80s and 90s. There was no tour or anything really so with three kids she felt she couldn’t really go and play on tour.

Where did you go to university?

We went to Louisiana State, my sister and I. I studied marketing and graduated in 2007. I turned pro early 2008. The last few years, the first year and was working to get some money and then I played the Symetra Tour for the last four years, not as much as I would have liked with money problems, but eventually I got a sponsor, that’s why things have started to come together a little more the last few years to be able to play.

What brings you to Europe?

Just a change of scenery. I actually was married to an American and we had a divorce this year and I felt a change for me to get away from the US for a little while and I was kind of over the Symetra Tour. I have always wanted to play in Europe, be closer to South Africa and see my family more, so it’s all worked out really well.

Are you thinking of living in Europe?

Maybe! We’ll see what happens and where I end up. I love travelling and don’t mind where I live as long as I have the means to get back to see my family more often, then that’s cool. They are in Port Shepston, a little south of Durban.

What are your hopes for the 2013 season?

Just to keep playing on the track that I’ve been playing. I guess just to play in as many tournaments as I can on the LET and I definitely want to try to qualify for the British and the US Open this year: those are my big ones.

What do you like doing to relax?

I’m pretty easy going, I don’t mind. I can go shopping, I can chill and just watch TV. I like to do any kind of outdoors thing, working out, I’m a big fitness person so I’ll do anything that’s going to get my mind off golf. To take a break from golf is always good.

What would you like to be if not a golfer?

I’ve always enjoyed travelling so something that would still allow me to travel, maybe a marketing type of job selling things or something in the entertainment industry.

Which golfer do you most admire?

Definitely, Ernie Els. My sister and I were part of his foundation growing up so he helped us a lot and at a time when we were struggling financially with golf, to keep us going and to pay for all of our tournaments, so he was a big influence on our career. He’s the big inspiration.

Who would be in your dream fourball?

I would say my mom, my sister, and probably Ernie Els.

What is your best round so far?

I’ve shot a 65 in a tournament during college.

Any holes in one?

Yes, I’ve had two.

What shot do you like to practice?

I like to practice with my wedges.

What do you consider the best part of your game?

I’d like to say my long game, but as of late, my short game has really saved me, I mean tough up and downs, not just a basic chip shot. It’s been a lot of scoring clubs, wedges, up and down shots.

Who do you work with?

I work with Kevin Kirk, a coach in the Woodlands, Texas. He coaches Katie Futcher, who is on the LPGA and Jonathan Vegas, who is on the PGA and then myself and a couple of pros on the Nationwide Tour.


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