Sarah White enters Phase II with perspective and experience at her side | LPGA


Symetra Tour player Sarah White will tee off with her brother on the second tier of Q-School this week. No surprise there. Under normal circumstances, this would result in a shrug and a “good for her” nod. Most of the Q-School field is made up of family members who carry clubs. A brother who doubles as a caddy is about as dog-bite as a golf story can get. But this story has a few twists and turns.

For starters, Brett White, who is two years older than Sarah, has just passed the second tier of Korn Ferry Tour qualifiers and will be playing the PGA TOUR qualifying series in 2022. Should both Whites reach the next level, they will become Minjee and Min Woo Lee as Tour Pro siblings.

“My brother brought me in,” said Sarah. “It was always about my brother, me and golf. We have been on this journey together since we started. I was five and he was seven [when we got into golf]. I was that annoying little sister who wanted to be like my brother. “

Golf wasn’t Sarah’s only sport. She was the starting goalkeeper for East Kentwood High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also appeared on the ABC game show Holey Moley, which was a mix of mini golf and an obstacle course. Think Big Break meets American Ninja Warrior with a little wipeout and you have the idea. The show never caught on, but Sarah’s reputation as a talented athlete did. She began her college golf career in Western Michigan before moving to Texas State University in San Marcos. In all of this, Brett was there to support them.

“I always knew we were in here together,” said Sarah. “We just had a lot of time together, we trained together and took part in tournaments. I remember he had an 8:00 am tee time and I was out at 2:00 am. When he finished, he came out and watched me. Our dad was for 36. out there [holes] a day.”

It was a great family golf story until the moment it wasn’t.

There is another chapter in whites history that makes Brett’s presence at Plantation Golf and Country Club even more special.

In the summer of 2017, Brett played the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica before returning to the States for a few summer events. He had just lost in a three-way playoff at the New Hampshire State Open when he felt like he couldn’t swallow. For the next week, at the Rhode Island State Open, he felt his throat constrict. That’s when he knew he was in trouble. A few trips later to the emergency room, doctors advised Brett to go to the hospital immediately. A virus made his brain swell. Soon he lost his balance and balance and had difficulty remembering simple things.

Emergency doctors arrested the swelling. But Brett could neither walk nor stand. Nobody would tell him if the situation was going to get any better. Brain infections remain a mystery to even the most experienced medical professional. Brett embarked on a 10-week rehab regimen that began with being held upright in a harness. But the first day he had a golf club and asked the nurses to help him swing as part of his therapy.

This is Brett White a little over three years ago. A brain infection almost killed him. He had to learn to walk and speak again. He had to be held on a belt while swinging. He is T7 in Q school and two rounds away from getting his KFT card.

“He swung a stick before he could really walk,” Sarah said with a proud voice as she told her brother’s story. “He worked on his back swing as soon as he could get up without feeling sick.”

Sarah was struggling to return to Texas State for her junior year. But classes started two weeks after Brett was inducted. “It was really scary,” she said. “It was all about his health and getting back to normal.”

Fortunately, Brett fought all the way back. At the end of Sarah’s fall season, he came out to watch her. “He went a few holes before he was so tired he had to take a nap in the car,” she said. “It was wonderful that he made the effort. To see him running out there when it was two holes, or seven holes or nine holes, it meant the world to me. “

“When you go through what I’ve been through, your outlook on life and what’s important changes,” said Brett, standing on the putting green and his sister preparing for one of the greatest weeks of their career helped. “That sounds clichéd because it’s true. I know now that if you do a bogey, it’s not the end of the world. I know that you shouldn’t get too high or too low and never get too angry because it can always be worse.

“I am happy to be on a golf course. When I was in a hospital bed, not knowing if I would ever walk again, it was like, ‘I just hope I can come back and play nine holes for recreation’. After I got out of the hospital, what kept me going was making me feel like myself. Mentally I knew I was still the same. If I could come back physically, I had the feeling that I might still be able to compete. “

He did better. In 2020, Brett won the Michigan State Open. And this fall, he secured a spot on the Korn Ferry Tour 2022.

“My brother is a huge inspiration from what he’s been through,” said Sarah. “We’re very close. I’ve done caddy for him a few times. It turns out that he can caddy more for me than I can for him because I was at Symetra full-time. But our communication is great. He can do me say what I think. “

“What happened gave me a better perspective on the golf course,” said Brett. “I am much more patient. And I’m trying to pass that on to Sarah. Golf is a very individual game. Sometimes you can get in your own way. It happens to everyone. So it’s good to have a voice from someone who’s gone through some ups and downs to tell you, hey, everything will be fine. “

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