Waynesburg HS grad Rachel Rohanna preps for 3rd U.S. Women’s Open
In her most recent trip to the U.S. Women’s Open, Rachel Rohanna had her week come to an abrupt and disappointing end.
One shot inside the cut line heading into the penultimate hole of her second round, the Waynesburg High School grad took a six on the par-3 17th at Sebonack Golf Club. The triple-bogey, aided and abetted by a wayward tee shot and subsequent USGA ruling on the lie that went against her, caused Rohanna to miss the cut by a shot.
That was six years ago, and as Rohanna heads to the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open that begins May 30 at Country Club of Charleston (S.C.), much has changed.
She is 28 years old, married — she wed Carmichaels grad Ethan Virgili just a couple of weeks after the ’13 Open — and has a soon-to-be 1-year-old daughter, Gemelia. She has six years as a pro, including a full season on the LPGA Tour in 2016, and two Symetra Tour wins to lean on.
All of it has given her a new outlook as she prepares for her fourth career major.
“Becoming a mother, there are so many more important things in life than going to your job every day,” she said. “Just having that little shift in priorities and (my) mental approach has given me more patience with the game and taken weight off my shoulders.
“Definitely I have been playing pretty good this whole year. I felt like my swing still was a little different these last couple of weeks. I couldn’t really get comfortable, but I feel like I was peaking at the right time for the (Open) qualifier.”
Rohanna earned her trip to Charleston with a victory at the May 6 sectional qualifier at Chartiers Country Club. She shot 73-68 to beat 15-year-old amateur Paris Hilinski by four shots.
A change in drivers, she said, helped her score better in the second round. She went with a driver that sacrificed a little distance in favor of accuracy, and it paid off.
She said she isn’t sure which driver she will use at the Open. It will be a feel-based decision, and she believes it will be an important one.
“When I am hitting my driver well, it feels like the rest of my clubs follow suit,” she said.
Part of her preparation will be to play the three Symetra Tour events leading up to the Open, including the just-completed IOA Invitational, at which she tied for 30th.
Players generally back off on their tournament schedule in the run-up to a major. But Rohanna said because the current string of Symetra Tour events is in the South, it would help her adapt to courses that feature different grass than the northern courses to which she is more accustomed.
She said will not, however, push herself during the upcoming two weeks, likely eschewing practice rounds at the Symetra venues to minimize her workload. Rohanna also has been using veteran caddie Jody Keepers on a more regular basis, which she believes also will work in her favor.
Older, wiser and more experienced, Rohanna is optimistic she is ready to finally make a cut in a major. She said if she can maintain her patience and keep her adrenaline in check, a run at the first page of the leaderboard is within her capabilities.
“I just want to keep things simple where I focus on hitting a fairway, hitting a green and making a putt,” she said. “Knowing where my game is right now and where I am mentally and emotionally, I do have higher expectations for myself.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .