18 Questions With ...
Mina Harigae Is Driven To
Win, And, Oh Yeah, She Doesn't Like Mornings
January 31, 2008
Last year Mina Harigae finally realized a lifelong
ambition of winning a USGA championship when she
defeatedStephany Fleet at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public
Links, which was held at Kearney Hill Golf Links in
She went on to play in the U.S. Women's Open and was
one of four amateurs to make the cut, dryly stating after
the second round: "I was hoping I would miss the cut.
I feel like I don't really deserve to the way I
played." She finished her first Women's Open
21-over 305 for a tie at 67
Things continue to be on the up and up for Harigae, who
has appeared in 16 USGA championships. She was recently
named to the USA Curtis Cup team and will attend Duke this
fall to play golf. She shared with the USGA her thoughts
about golf, what she would change and what really ticks her
The reigning U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links
champion. How often have you been introduced like that
and what's your reaction? Do you have to look around
and say, 'Is that really me?'
I've only been introduced like that a few times and I
think it's pretty cool. Yeah at first it's like,
'Whoa, that's me,' but when I think about it
not many people get to be introduced like that so I think
it's really cool. It may be a little nerve-wracking,
because I don't want to top the ball in front of people
being a USGA champion and all.
|One to wear her emotions on her
sleeve, Mina Harigae reacts during the U.S. Women's
Amateur Public Links last year. (Robert
You have accomplished quite a bit in golf for only being
18 years old. What drives you to succeed? And why did you
choose to start playing golf?
What drives me, I guess, is my competitiveness. I've
always been competitive and I love to succeed. Makes me
feel like I'm doing something right.
Why golf? It just came natural to me and I find it fun
hitting a little golf ball around. [Laughter]. But really I
like it because it's the best feeling in the world
making an important 10-footer or sticking it next to the
flag. I started playing because I thought it was a fun
sport trying to hit the ball as far as I can. Then I
started to love the game and it just became routine.
Is there a favorite quote that you adhere to?
"There are no shortcuts to success." I heard
Annika [Sorenstam] say that at the Polo Banquet last
November and I thought it was a great quote, especially
because it's from Annika.
Did winning the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links
title change you in any way?
Not really. I'm still the same except now I know that I
can win, so it drives me more to do even better. I feel
like I broke through part of a wall in a way.
What is something about you that would make people say
'Hmmm .' or would be surprised to know?
I eat a lot? I guess that would surprise people that
don't know me. I mean I can eat for an hour straight.
What's been your biggest 'Wow!' moment as a
Playing with Tom Kite and Tom Watson. It's so cool that
they know my name, because they're the legends of golf.
It's like, 'I can't believe I'm having a
conversation with these people - they're so
You live in Monterey, Calif. So what's your favorite
local course - Cypress Point, Pebble Beach or some place
else? And why?
I love Cypress Point. The whole course is gorgeous and
it's a tough course, especially with the wind. And I
like Alister MacKenzie courses. He's a genius. Oh, and
I love ocean views. [Laughter].
You're California-born and bred, so why did you
choose to attend Duke, located all the way across the
country in Durham, N.C.?
I wanted to go somewhere that can prepare me for the LPGA
Tour. Duke has the best women's program, and I love the
team and coach [Dan] Brooks. I know I can learn a lot from
the team because they work really hard and I know I can
learn a lot from coach Brooks. I mean, he does have three
NCAA Championships under his belt, so he must be good.
Oh, and I want to go somewhere that can give me a great
education. And I think the campus is gorgeous. I have to
get used to the east coast weather since tournaments are
always on the east coast.
You always appear to be having fun and have a smile on
your face, but is there anything that really ticks you
Yeah, people who don't understand my life with golf.
They think when I go to tournaments that I have time to
sight-see and have loads of leisure time, when they have no
idea how hard it is to compete in a tournament with good
players. And they don't understand the time and work I
put into this game. It's really stressful trying
to make them understand.
What were you doing when you found out you had been
named to the 2008 Curtis Cup team?
I was at Poppy Hills going to go practice. I screamed after
I found out. [Laughter].
How cool will it be to play St. Andrews? (Editor's
note: The Curtis Cup is scheduled May 30-June 1 on The Old
It would be so awesome. I've talked to people who have
been there and they say it is amazing. I can't believe
I'm actually going there.
What's the most nervous you've ever been on a
Probably at the U.S. Women's Open [last year]. I
didn't want to embarrass myself.
If you could be the 'Czar of Golf,' what one
rule would you change or implement?
The 10-second rule when the ball is hanging on the edge. I
think it's ridiculous if it's not in. Oh well, move
on. I lost a hole in one match-play event because I knocked
the ball away before the person got to the ball and
waited 10 seconds. I waited 10 seconds, but the person
wasn't up there. I thought it was dumb and that really
ticked me off.
Do you have an iPod? If so, what three songs are the
I'm attached to my iPod. Three songs that are played
the most are "Check Yes Juliet" by We the Kings,
"With You" by Chris Brown, and "Don't
You Know Who I Think I Am" by Fall Out Boy.
Favorite TV show?
"Project Runway." I love all the things the
designers make. It's so neat. I wish I was that
Night person or morning person?
Oh, definitely night person. I hate getting up in the
morning and I hate morning people, because they annoy me in
the morning. [Laughter].
If you didn't play golf, what would you like to
Something to do with animals. I love animals. When I was
younger I wanted to go into marine biology or be a vet.
What's been the most embarrassing moment on the golf
When I was waiting for the group in front of me when I was
younger, I sat down and laid back on my back with my arms
and legs spread out. And the man behind me drove up and
Is she OK?!
' to my mom because he thought I was hurt. My mom and I
were so embarrassed.