It’s second nature to her, but to everyone else, it’s a source of inspiration.
Sixteen-year-old high school golfer Sydney Pomajzl was born with fibular hemimelia in her right leg. It’s a birth defect in which part or all of the fibular bone (ankle area) is missing. It usually requires amputation of the foot because everything below the ankle is rendered useless.
The result is that the high school golfer from Cody, Wyoming, walks the golf course and the rest of her life with a prosthetic on her right leg.
“I don’t really think about my prosthetic anymore especially when I’m on the golf course trying to focus on my game,” Pomajzl said. “To me, I’ve already adjusted to having it as my normal. So to me, it’s normal.”
To others, though, overcoming such a disability is inspiring, and that’s why she and her parents were invited guests of the ANA Inspiration, one of the LPGA’s five major tournaments, this week. The hallmark of the trip was Pomajzl being able to play in the pro-am Wednesday. She played the front nine with Juli Inkster and the back nine with Morgan Pressel. Not bad.
She walked the 18 holes of the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills with her high school golf coach Chad Smith as her caddie. She may not have played as well as she’s used to, but remember being in Wyoming doesn’t provide much opportunity for winter golf, so she had some rust mixed with the obvious nerves.
When the round was over, it was time for her to exhale and take it all in.
“It’s kind of a relief to be done just in the sense that I’m not anxious about it anymore,” she said. “But looking back, it was awesome, getting to play a beautiful course with awesome people. This has been a dream come true for sure.”
Count Pressel, a former ANA Inspiration champion, among those impressed by Pomajzl.
“Anybody who hears Sydney’s story, I mean, it inspires me and hopefully it inspires others to take up the game of golf or to go for their dream no matter what they might think sets them back,” Pressel said. “Because I’m sure Sydney doesn’t see it this way, but it’s very, very impressive what she does.”
The most important athlete Pomajzl met happened on Tuesday, not Wednesday. She was at the Inspiring Women of Sports Conference and met Jessica Long. Long was born with fibular hemimelia just like Poamjzl but in both legs not just one.
Long uses prosthetics on both legs and became a 12-time gold medal-winning paralympic swimmer.
“It was nice to talk to someone on the same level as me with the same life issues,” she said of her chat with Long after Tuesday’s Inspiring Women of Sports conference. “We can connect in that way and we can’t talk to really other people like that. We chatted about our different legs and similar experiences. I mean, comparing legs, that isn’t something I can do that often.”
Pomajzl wore her Cody High School golf shirt on Wednesday and under the logo was a phrase that had the word “Brooks” in it, an homage to her cousin’s baby who died recently from SIDS. It was something that inspired her to come on this trip.
And now that she’s here, she’s the one doing the inspiring.