Klatten on quest to redeem
Saturday, May 10, 2014 1:09 AM
Golf is a game of redemption.
You hit one bad shot; you make up for it with the next.
It worked for Phil Mickelson when his prayer shot from the pines set the foundation for his 2010 Masters victory. The same happened in the 2012 Masters, amid trees, when Bubba Watson turned his wedge into a magic wand to win his green jacket.
But sometimes, the quest to make up for something gone wrong can take place off the course.
In Joanna Klatten’s case, she has made up her mind she won’t stop at anything until that happens.
Klatten may be today’s leader in her first Symetra Tour event, the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic. But no one may be relishing this journey more then her. A native of France, she originally chose to play college golf at Atlanta’s Georgia State, where she became the first Panthers women’s golfer to compete in the NCAA championship (she tied for 43rd).
But after playing in a tournament in Charleston, Klatten wanted to play at the College of Charleston instead.
“I really, really enjoyed the city; it was awesome,” Klatten said. “And, I knew I was going to be in the states for four years. So, if I could see something different, and transfer, I might as well take the opportunity.”
To her, Charleston was a reminder of the South of France. Take her word for it. She can see the Eiffel Tower from her parents’ apartment.
Hearing the traffic blow by on Atlanta’s Peachtree Road no longer intrigued her.
“I loved it at Georgia State, but Charleston is just ... well, you can’t deny that it’s more beautiful than Atlanta,” she said.
Klatten got her wish and joined the Cougars.
There, she tied for 11th in a tournament. But, that was it, as far as anything meaningful.
Once Klatten got caught up in what Charleston has to offer -- both on the beach and the bar scene -- 18 holes no longer mattered to her as the 19th.
“I was so in love with the city, the bars, so obviously, I didn’t really focus on my golf game,” Klatten said. “I think I was a disappointment for the College of Charleston golf coach because he expected a lot out of me, I think, because I played so well at Georgia State. But, when I got to the College of Charleston, all I wanted to do was basically party and go to the beach. I did not practice much on my golf game, and it just went downhill.”
It went so far downhill, Klatten gave up golf for roughly 18 months.
“I never wanted to turn pro at the time; I had lost interest,” Klatten said. “My college career was over, and I started working.”
Working in the marketing department of a Paris radio company, Klatten also began to work as an occasional assistant on a pro tour over there. And through that, her interest in the game was rekindled.
“I had some interesting conversions with players,and that made me miss it,” Klatten said.”And, I want to work as journalist or commentator one day for golf, and my uncle -- who’s in the business -- said the best way to be in the industry is to make a name for yourself. And that way, to me, was through professional golf.”
But soon, what appeared to be a means to achieve that commentator dream once again became her infatuation.
To follow through with that, though, she had to pick up a club again.
“It was a tough six months,” Klatten said. “I couldn’t break 80.”
But she eventually worked her way toward the pros. She won on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour. And, during the past four years, she has played on the Ladies European Tour where she has six career top-10 finishes. In 2013, she finished 13th on the LET Order of Merit Record.
Not only has Klatten regained her form, she has learned form her past.
“The good thing, maybe compared to others, is I’ve lived my wild life,” she said. “I’ve partied and done all these things. I went pretty crazy for a couple of years, and I had the time of my life. But, that’s behind me. I don’t need to do that anymore. I love my life in golf.
“I think everybody has to get the wildness out of them,” she added.
Going into the weekend, Klatten has the chance to win a Symetra Tour-record $30,000 and have the chance to play for a $1 million (annuity) prize via the Park Sterling Cup, which comes with the money if she wins here, at Asheville, North Carolina, and at Charlotte.
But that appears to only part of her motivation.
“It’s revenge, now,” she said.
That answer alone tells how determined she is to redeem herself.
Redemption is possibly two days away.
Chancey is sports editor at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 223-1813; e-mail email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @IJSCOTTCHANCEY. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.