RYE, NEW YORK | They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Especially in golf, sometimes being away from one of the most difficult sports in the world can feel like a breath of fresh air and provide a much-needed reprieve, allowing clarity and perspective for a player both mentally and physically.
For Emilia Migliaccio, those absences from golf nowadays aren’t incredibly long – maybe eight days here or 10 days there. But considering she hasn’t played competitive golf since the Palmer Cup in June and she’s been busy working with the Golf Channel as a writer and on-course commentator, having the opportunity to compete at the U.S. Women’s Amateur is that much more enjoyable.
“I’m so happy to be back,” said the Wake Forest graduate. “It feels so good. There’s nothing like playing a competition round and it’s nice to be in a space where you can enjoy that.”
“I’ve enjoyed writing on some amateur golfers like Rachel Heck and Rose Zhang who are two really good friends of mine and I’ve written stories on them. It’s been nice to be the voice of the LPGA and amateur golf and the APGA and just diversifying the content. It’s been really cool.” – Emilia Migliaccio
Migliaccio shocked the golf world earlier this year when she announced that she had no intentions of turning professional, something that seemed to be a given for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur runner-up. Citing the crippling performance anxiety she experienced during her senior year of collegiate golf as one of the main reasons for forgoing a pro career, she has found a new outlet covering the game instead of playing it.
It’s well-known that Migliaccio’s prowess on the page rivals her prowess on the golf course and with the 22-year-old already being a published author – her novel Just an Illusion was released during her sophomore year of college – it seemed that pursuing her lifelong love of writing was a logical career choice for the former Demon Deacon.
Over the summer, Migliaccio joined the editorial staff for GolfChannel.com and has had the opportunity to travel to some of the game’s biggest events, interviewing and writing about players for the digital platform. The two-time All-American even had story assignments ahead of her week at Westchester with some of her fellow competitors as subject matter.
“I wrote a story on Rose Zhang before this week and wrote about the APGA Tour (Advocates Pro Golf Association),” Migliaccio said. “Willie Mack III had won his 66th professional title. It’s fun to do both things.”
However, the once LPGA Tour hopeful has an obvious soft spot for the women’s game, saying that some of her most memorable interactions so far have been with the female professionals. Migliaccio had the opportunity to cover a women’s major earlier this season at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the drama that unfolded with Lizette Salas and Nelly Korda duking it out for their first major title was a source of inspiration for some of the rookie journalist’s favorite work so far.
“One of my first interviews was Mel Reid in a press conference,” said Migliaccio. “She was awesome – just super chill and laid back and gave great answers. I loved writing about Nelly Korda and Lizette Salas at the (Women’s PGA). Those were my favorites because Nelly won and became No. 1 in the world and really opened up about her family and how much her family has supported her. Lizette opened up about the journey that she’s been through. I spent a lot of time trying to craft those really well.”
Coaching my protégé @emiliamigliacc1 as she preps for her on course commentating debut Friday at #USGirlsJunior She certainly has the golf resume & great potential! #usga pic.twitter.com/jVqKMr6iGy
— Kay Cockerill (@KayCockerill) July 15, 2021
Using her platform to diversify media coverage of golf is Migliaccio’s ultimate goal. While it was an exciting experience covering the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and she’s looking forward to being at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship next week, her greatest enjoyment is acting as a voice for parts of the game that aren’t as publicly recognized.
“I’ve enjoyed writing on some amateur golfers like Rachel Heck and Rose Zhang who are two really good friends of mine and I’ve written stories on them,” Migliaccio said. “It’s been nice to be the voice of the LPGA and amateur golf and the APGA and just diversifying the content. It’s been really cool.”
Even though grad school at her alma mater Wake Forest is on the docket and she is planning on continuing her work with Golf Channel, Migliaccio is as focused as ever at this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur. With scores of 74 and 69, the North Carolina native handily qualified for match play, where in the round of 64 she defeated Ting-Hsuan Huang of Chinese Taipei in 22 holes.
For someone who a year ago was struggling with her confidence on the course, Migliaccio was pleased with her performance in the first round of match play. It was a tough road through the throes of anxiety for her and she’s just relieved to be feeling at ease with herself and golf, having found other things on which she enjoys spending time.
“It’s positive that I can sustain long matches and long weeks,” she said. “I kind of figured out my swing as the round kept going so that was really good. I love hard matches because they just kind of test your perseverance and patience and grit. (Ting-Hsuan Huang) made some awesome up-and-downs coming down the stretch. She didn’t give up. I didn’t give up. It’s great momentum.
“I feel a lot more comfortable. I tell my boyfriend every night that it’s so exciting that I can go to bed and my heart rate is 60. My heart rate would be like 85. I just couldn’t calm down. I feel like I’ve put golf in such a different perspective. It is just a game and it’s not that deep.”
That fresh perspective can be linked to having the chance to breathe and take a break, something that was critical for the 22-year-old after her senior year at Wake Forest. Being able to watch the world’s best up close and personally as part of your summer job helps too.
“It’s been good to have a break,” Migliaccio said, having had only 11 days of preparation before her berth in U.S. Women’s Amateur. “It’s also helpful to watch a lot of the best professional players’ games and see that they’re not perfect. They hit bad shots; they’re just really good at scoring. That was helpful for me and my game.”
With some positive swing thoughts, Migliaccio advances at Westchester, just grateful for the desire to play again. Working stiffs and grad students don’t have much time for golf so she knows that this opportunity is one to be cherished.
“I was so happy that when I stopped playing I got the itch back,” she said. “I play every chance I get now. I think I’m just grateful to be playing on difficult golf courses, playing in the best tournaments and against the best competition – just a lot of things I took for granted when I was playing consistently.”
Regardless of what happens the rest of the week, you can bet Migliaccio will do her best to write her own storybook ending.
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