U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Petty's Pro Debut Ends With Proposal
July 8, 2016 | San Martin, Calif.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
It has been a big week for Kasey Petty, 22, of Groveport, Ohio. She made her professional debut in the 71st U.S. Women’s Open, and although she missed the cut, she played practice rounds with Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, which gave her the chance to measure her game against the world’s two best players as she prepares for LPGA Tour Qualifying School in the fall.
Oh, and after signing her Round 2 score card on Friday, she signed on for a lifetime – right in front of the clubhouse at CordeValle as family, friends and Fox Sports cameras recorded the scene.
“It’s been seven years since we met – it was 7/8/09,” said Petty of her boyfriend and now fiancé, Jacob Miller. “I thought about it a while ago – man, our anniversary is going to be while I’m at the Open. It was in the back of my mind, and it stayed back there until he said, ‘Will you marry me’ and I said, oh gosh!”
After that exclamation, Petty replied yes, apparently deciding that she could work some wedding planning into her practice schedule.
“I didn’t play very well, but this kind of makes up for all of that,” said Petty, a few moments after “The Moment.” “I had a tiny little hunch about it, but after [a round of] 83, I figured maybe he’s not going to do anything. But I’m happy that he did.”
It’s not as though Miller, 24, had much choice. He had been planning to propose at the end of the summer, but then Petty finished first in a sectional qualifier for this championship on May 24 in St. Louis.
“I’ve had the ring for a month,” said Miller, an assistant golf coach at the University of Findlay (Ohio), where Petty recently completed her college career. “I was going to propose the day before I headed back to school. But then she qualified for the Open and our pastor, who caddies for me, said, ‘You need to do it at the Open, or I’m not caddieing for you anymore.’”
Suffice to say, the pastor/caddie, Barry Peters, had been prodding Miller to pop the question for a while.
The couple met thanks to Miller’s mother, Doreen, who owns the salon where Petty gets her hair cut. When she found out that Petty was a golfer, Doreen suggested that she play with her son.
“Seven years ago today was the first time we played,” said Petty, who was a two-time Division II All-America player at Findlay. “We went out to dinner afterward, and I’ve kept the receipt from that day like, forever.”
It was another five years before the two began dating, and now Miller, of Pataskala, Ohio, who played at Marshall University, doubles as her fiancé and her swing coach.
“I was worried when she didn’t play well,” said Miller of walking the final holes on Friday. “She’s really good, and I thought she was going to be so upset, so I was a little nervous about that. But it turned out perfectly because after every round she plays, she hugs her family and I’m always last, so we can talk about the round.”
As much as she was buoyed by the pending nuptials, Petty was not disheartened by her rounds of 81-83.
“I wish I had shot a 73 or a 63 instead of an 83, but I’m excited to come back and give it another shot,” she said. “I give a lot of credit to the people who do this week-in and week-out. I just need to practice and get better.”
She appreciated the measuring sticks that the world’s top players provided earlier in the week.
“That opened my eyes a lot – playing with Brooke [Henderson] and Lydia [Ko],” said Petty. “I know they’re really good players, but I belong out here. It was reassuring to know that I’m not too far off. The experience was amazing – it was everything I could have dreamed of.”
And more, thanks to a serendipitous round of golf seven years ago.
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.