Katy Harris Is Writing Quite a Story
Lots of golfers make comebacks. But few attempt those comebacks after going years with almost no golf.
Katy Harris - then known as Katy Wilkinson - was a top junior golfer in the mid- to late 1990s: 2-time Indiana high school state champ, 1997 Indiana Women's Open champ. Then she was a top college golfer at LSU: 20 Top 10 finishes, 11 Top 5 finishes, All-American honors in 2001.
She was poised to turn pro and launch a career in golf. But an injury - and then life - sent her down another path.
At the tail end of her senior season at LSU, during the 2001 SEC Championship tournament, Harris tried to play a ball out of the mud in a water hazard. The mud didn't give; her hand did.
"The impact loosened a joint in my right hand," she said. "It didn't feel too bad at the time. Just a little sore. I was able to shoot a course record - and tournament record at the time - (of) 7-under 65 the next day and finished second at the tournament. (But) the more golf I played, the more my hand hurt. Eventually, I felt pain at impact of every shot."
Even after graduation, and after Katy and her husband moved to Houston, the pain persisted. Surgery was recommended.
"An attempt was made to fuse the joint solid using some bone from my wrist," Katy said. "Pins were involved, it wasn't much fun. Unfortunately, it took two surgeries."
The surgery continued her layoff from golf, and then something else did, too. Katy and her husband decided to start a family. They now have two children, a son who is 4 1/2 and a daughter who is 2 1/2.
How much golf was Katy playing from the time of the surgery until early 2010? Barely any.
"I probably played one to two times a year," she said. "For me, it wasn't much fun to play golf recreationally since I had been a competitive golfer and was unable to put in the time to keep my game sharp."
One advantage, however, of that little golf is that her hand seemed healed. "I'm really not sure if the surgeries corrected the problem," she said, "or if it was just the time off."
With her hand feeling better, Katy began, in the spring of 2010, playing nine holes in the afternoon after her husband got home from work. It was some alone time for this wife and mom, nothing more. Except that Harris was scoring much better than she expected. And her hand felt fine.
"I started to think about the 'what ifs'," Katy said.
She signed up to play the 2010 Texas Women's Open, and played it as a pro. And how did Katy do in her first competitive event in nine years? She finished second.
"After that, I was committed to giving professional golf a shot," she said. And with her competitive juices flowing again, and with her husband's encouragement and support, that's what Katy is now doing.
And with good success. She won a Cactus Tour event in 2010 and also reached the final stage of LPGA Q-School last year (earning Futures Tour status for 2011). A couple weeks ago Katy played in the U.S. Women's Open, having been the low qualifier at the Houston sectional.
She finished second again in the Texas Women's Open this year, and won on the Canadian Women's Tour a couple months ago.
That Canadian Tour win gets Katy into the 2011 Canadian Women's Open on the LPGA Tour, Aug. 25-28. After that is the second-stage qualifier at LPGA Q-School, Sept. 27-30.
It's quite a story, and Katy Harris is still writing it.