COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — On July 13 just outside of Toledo, a group gathered around the first tee at Highland Meadows Golf Club as announcer Chrys Peterson’s voice rang out as she introduced the youngest competitor in the LPGA’s Dana Open.
“From New Albany, Ohio, please welcome 15-year-old Mia Hammond!”
The New Albany High School sophomore raised her hand to make a bashful wave, then zoned in on the first hole of her first LPGA event.
“I think I kind of shocked myself in a sense,” Hammond said months later, looking back on her first LPGA experience. “I wasn’t really expecting to play that well in the first couple of rounds.”
Hammond finished the first two rounds tied for 20th at 6 under par and made the cut to play the weekend, when she was boosted by some of the biggest galleries and cheers of the tournament.
One of those fans was Kyle Morris, the owner of The Golf Room in Dublin, who has been working with Hammond since she was 9 years old.
“To be honest, she was amazing at 9, too,” he said with a smile. “Her doing what she’s doing and playing where she’s playing is not one bit surprising.”
Hammond finished the Dana Open tied for 26th, but her biggest win was simply learning the ropes inside the ropes.
“Just to feel the environment and what it’s like to actually be out there with people I’m not familiar with and kind of understand what it really takes,” she said.
“When pressure is really, really high, she plays really, really good,” Morris said with a laugh. “We make jokes that we should probably get 100,000 people to follow you because you would probably shoot 63.”
This week, Hammond has a chance to put those LPGA lessons to the test as she tees it up at the Queen City Tournament in Cincinnati.
“I’ll know what to expect a little bit more this time,” she said calmly. “Last time, it was kind of shocking because I’ve never been in that position before.”
“The thing is about Mia’s game is it’s incredibly bulletproof no matter the situation,” Morris said. “It’s not like her game is overly dependent on other aspects of her game. It’s very steady so if she can get some putts to fall, her playing really, really good, and winning, it’s not out of the question.”
After the Dana Open, Hammond said she found the crowds and cameras a bit overwhelming. This time, she’s looking to interact a bit more and really take in the atmosphere.
“I just want to be able to have the best time I can out there,” she said. “Have fun with the pros, have fun with the crowds and make it another experience I’ll never forget.”
Hammond tees off at 9:20 a.m. Thursday at Kenwood Country Club on the Kendale Course.