We extend our best wishes to Nicole Castrale today, who just announced her retirement from golf. And congratulations for an excellent pro career that includes some great high points even thought it was cut short by injury.
Nicole is a California girl who played her college golf at the University of Southern California. She turned pro in 2001 and played the Futures Tour that year, but earned her LPGA card for the 2002 season. She played mostly on the Futures Tour again in 2004 and 2005, winning twice in 2005, before getting back to the LPGA in 2006. And that's when her career took off.
Castrale earned her first (and what turned out to be her only) LPGA win at the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika, and did it by beating Lorena Ochoa in a playoff. She also played her way onto the USA's 2007 Solheim Cup team, and sank the winning putt for Team USA in the singles.
Nicole made the Solheim Cup team again in 2009, but injuries began causing real issues with her career in 2010 when she underwent shoulder surgery. She missed most of 2011 after giving birth to her daughter.
Nicole had some good moments after that, but injuries, particularly recurring back problems, were keeping her away from the game more and more. (It was during one injury respite that Castrale first got extended airtime on the Golf Channel.) And she finally felt forced to have the career-ending back surgery that she'd been avoiding.
So it's time to turn the page. But before you turn the page, here's is Nicole's thoughtful farewell announcement (click to enlarge):