Liz Nagel’s debut season as a professional golfer has been filled with learning experiences.
It’s also included some significant moments.
One of those will come Thursday for the DeWitt native and former Michigan State golfer when she tees off at the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania.
“I’m thrilled. It’s my first major,” said Nagel, who tees off at 8:57 a.m. Thursday. “It’s huge and the biggest experience and biggest opportunity of my life so far. You can’t really look at it that way when you’re out there because it makes you nervous just thinking about it.
“But it’s important to understand the opportunity that I have, and really just enjoy every second of it. I am doing that and you’ve got to soak it in while you’re here.”
The U.S. Women’s Open will be just the second career LPGA Tour event for Nagel, who earned a spot in the field by finishing second at a qualifier in Illinois in May. Two weeks ago, Nagel gained her first LPGA Tour experience when she was a late addition to the field for the NW Arkansas Championship.
Nagel said that invite provided an opportunity she was waiting for and gave her valuable experience in preparation for this week’s major.
“Everything kind of aligned,” said Nagel, who was preparing to play in a Symetra event near Escanaba when she was added to the field in Arkansas. “It was really good. I had a great experience and Arkansas was a great first LPGA event for me.
“It was a little bit of a leap of faith so to say, but the deciding factor was that I was going to play in the Open and that I should probably get one under my belt and be around the crowds and the media and the people and the hype. I’m really glad.”
Nagel’s debut season has primarily been filled with a full slate on the LPGA Symetra Tour where she has recorded a pair of top 15 finishes. She enters the U.S. Women’s Open coming off a 73rd-place finish at the Tullymore Classic that concluded Sunday in Stanwood.
From there she made the trip to Lancaster, Pa., to begin her preparations for an opportunity on the big stage she hopes to take advantage of.
“I’d love to play well and make the cut and hang around for the weekend,” Nagel said. “Either way, it’s a rookie year and they call it that for a reason. There’s so much learning involved with the travel and hotels versus staying with host families and it’s really something you have to experience it for yourself.
“The whole living life on the road thing is difficult to not be home and be gone most of the time. It’s the beginning, and I’m about halfway done with the season and it’s exciting and fun. It’s what I expected in that regard and there’s a lot that you just can’t predict and it keeps you on your toes.”