For Kelly Villarreal, appearing on Big Break Atlantis is a way back into competitive golf. The Golf Channel said this about the 29-year-old Alabamian:
Nicknamed "The Real Deal," Villarreal is anticipating Big Break Atlantis to be her comeback story. She is giving professional golf another go after giving up on her dreams to compete on the LPGA Tour for a medical sales career five years ago.
Villarreal was a college player at Samford University from 2001-05, and her college time includes two victories in Collegiate Players Tour events.
An article in the Birmingham News explains what happened with Villarreal immediately after her college playing days were over:
"In my junior and senior years at Samford I struggled with overexercising, not exercising and an eating disorder. I couldn't seem to get it together. ... I never felt good about myself."
College ended and she took time away from golf, the game she loved, to get herself together mentally and physically. She held various jobs in sales and her outgoing personality was a plus, as was her golf background.
"I was the only woman in our sales force who could play golf and that helped me," she said.
She still faced personal issues, though, and she went through a broken engagement. Last fall some friends encouraged her to try out for the Big Break.
Villarreal told me that she will begin playing tournaments again in May in preparation for Q-School later in the year. "I just returned to the game about six months ago and I am going full forward into golf mode," she said.
But Kelly's interests extend beyond resurrecting her golf career. She is also launching a clothing line called V-Chic and starting a foundation that helps athletes and others suffering from eating disorders. The foundation is called Pro-Healing. Readers can find more information about those initiatives on kellyvillarreal.com.