Gabriella didn’t know much about the Women’s European Tour then when she signed up to go to Q School in Spain at the request of a friend. This was, after all, a second act of sorts. You have already left the journey of life once. Why not try something completely different?
Then, 26, she actually won the Q-School at Club La Manga, then was shocked from her life when she realized that a lot of the Women’s European Tour wasn’t actually organized in Europe.
“I literally thought it was Europe, plus Dubai,” she said.
Questions flew after her victory, most notably: Will you stay in Europe? How will you pay for all this?
Before getting into the financial aspect of traveling from California to Saudi Arabia and Africa in the first three starts of its season (LET launched earlier this month in Kenya), it’s worth noting how it then got to this point.
An almost dedicated golfer from the start, she chose the game at age five, scored her first jumper at age eight, and qualified for the U.S. Ladies Amateur at age twelve, taking part in her first U.S. Women’s Championship at age 14. 2013 US Girls’ Junior Just weeks before starting University of Southern California, she set the school record for tours played over the course of her four-year career.
USC President Justin Silverstein then calls the “worker,” and that dedication has extended well beyond the training tee. Then her parents funded her young and amateur career, but she knew that to get to the next level, she had to start making money herself.
Throughout her time in college, she subsequently worked a range of jobs, stashing money for Q-School and the Epson (formerly Symetra) tour.
In 2019, after she missed applying to the second stage of an LPGA qualifying school by one stroke, she then decided it was time to do something else. She’s been out on what’s now known as Epson’s three-season tour and has found her bank account and drive running low.
She landed a job in marketing and sales at Le Mieux Skincare, and became a spectator of the game, following her boyfriend Eric Sugimoto, who played for USC at the same time, to the Japanese golf tour.
After a while off the ropes, she began to wonder if she would be leaving professional golf too soon.
Her close circle ripped off some cash to get her started again on the Cactus Tour, as she feared she might have forgotten everything she knew in her 18 months away from the game.
Instead, she won three times in four months in the Cactus and Women’s All Pro Tours, reigniting her passion in the process. Then she emptied her savings account to benefit herself a second time.
“I feel like I’m playing for my own personal goals and my own love of the game,” she said of how different this time around.
Kaley In was the first to suggest LET Q-School. The two friends train together at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, California. She then learned that she would be earning Epson Tour status since her second-round finish at the LPGA Q-School last year, but Europe offered a whole new experience.
“I was so confused when I saw the table,” she said then after winning the playoffs. “Wow, these are places I’ve never thought I’d touch in my entire life.”
Then I started budgeting for this year and realized that her expenses would be double and triple what she needed for the Epson Tour.
Then he has a few sponsors at Dave’s Hot Chicken, Konnect Resource, and goodr sunglasses. But she knew she would need more help getting started on LET, a route very few Americans take.
“Since I’ve been a professional golfer for five years, I’m used to it,” he said then of asking for money. “I’m kind of used to this constant fundraising, this constant communication, which I love to do.”
Although starting a GoFundMe page was new to her and took some convincing from friends. She started live with her GoFundMe page at 8 p.m. three weeks ago, and first sent a special note to those she thought might support them before posting it on social media.
She said, “In that time alone I had 15 different people who donated it right away, in amounts I could never have imagined. I was so shocked because I was crying that night.”
So far, it has then raised just over $16,000 on the GoFundMe platform and is close to halfway to its $40,000 goal.
Then time overlapped at USC with AIG Women’s Championship British Champion Sofia Popov, and the two friends were in touch very late as he prepares then for a year of golf that will likely be split between LET and Epson Tours. Popov’s story of nearly finishing the game, winning the Cactus Tour, and then months later, winning a major, is one that continues to inspire.
Silverstein then describes an eternal optimist, the kind of person who has time for everyone and sees the glass half full. That mindset will continue to run after that as it chases an LPGA dream a second time.
“My ability is better than in my professional life,” he said then. “I feel like I can play there with the best.”
She is willing to go to the ends of the earth to make it happen.