Australia’s top-ranked golfer on her two wins so far this year, the upcoming majors, her long-distance marriage and why the Australian Open needs to move dates

Wow, what a year it’s been, on and off the course. Away from golf – well, kind of away from golf – I married my husband, Jarryd Felton. On the course, it’s been a really incredible start to 2024 with my LPGA Tour wins at the HSBC tournament in Singapore and the JM Eagle LA Championship, my second straight year winning that event at Wilshire Country Club, a course I love playing.

I’m really, really excited for the majors this year. As this issue was hitting shelves, the US Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania was about to start. Regardless of my result this year, I think the US Open is my best chance to win another major going forward after winning my first – the 2019 Women’s PGA Championship. I’ve been to Lancaster Country Club before, it’s actually where I met Karrie Webb for the first time when I won her scholarship to come and watch her play the US Women’s Open in 2014. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.

The US Open is the one, on paper, that I think would set up best for my game, especially if it is tougher conditions. I feel like that’s what you expect at a US Open. That’s what I hope the conditions will be like at Lancaster.

Looking ahead to the Women’s PGA Championship, obviously as a past winner I have confidence in that event. It’s later this month and it’s being held at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle, which is a past PGA Tour course. I’ve heard it’s really narrow and tree-lined, so I’m really going to have to have my driving accuracy dialled in.

The Evian Championship is obviously in France, and that’s in July. I’ve been to it many times, and it’s not my favourite golf course that we play. A T-30 is my best result in five times there. I have a love/hate relationship with that golf course! So that’s going to be something I’ll have to really work on.

The event I’m most looking forward to is the AIG Women’s Open (August 22-25) because it’s going to St Andrews. We’ve only been there twice and it’s the Home of Golf. I really like links golf, even though my results would not suggest that. I feel good about all the remaining majors and for the rest of the year on the LPGA Tour. We’ve got some exciting tournaments coming up.

My game is really, really good at the moment. I’m ranked No.7 in the world and, growing up, I never dreamed that I’d be the top-ranked golfer from Australia. It’s such an amazing honour. I’ve had two wins this year, and I feel like I’m capable of getting another trophy in my hands this season. But I don’t want that to be my focus; I just want to make sure I’m thinking day by day and round by round versus lifting trophies on Sundays. I’m a process person.

Personally, life is good both at home and away at tournaments. It’s been amazing to be married since January and I’ve definitely not seen Jarryd as much as we would like. He’s a tour player as well and he’s trying to play tournaments as he can, and we understand what comes with professional golf. He came to the US in May, which I really looked forward to. We’ve been dating for so long and we chose to become golf professionals when we first started dating. We knew the sacrifices. We understand those and it does suck. I hate having to say that I haven’t seen Jarryd for six, or seven weeks [at the time of writing].

I’m also not the only pro golfer to be doing long distance. In a way, the majority of pros are doing long distance unless you are bringing your partner out on the road and that can be expensive. I guess I’m just in a minority where my husband is also a tour player. It’s just one of the realities of life on the road and I’m not complaining, although it is tough.

Another reality is just the less glamorous side of the LPGA Tour, which people probably wouldn’t know about. Even though the Fort Worth area, near Dallas, has become somewhat of a base for me where I have a regular golf club and I practise there, I’m still living out of a suitcase a lot and checking in and out of hotels and Airbnbs. I was hoping season two of Netflix’s “Full Swing” would show more of the gritty side of travelling. Obviously, the LPGA and the PGA Tour are very different. I don’t think anyone’s flying privately on the LPGA.

I stayed in an Airbnb the week of my LA Championship win. When I landed into LAX at 7am on a Monday, I couldn’t check into the Airbnb until 4pm. So, I went to my caddie’s house and slept on the couch for a couple of hours. Just little things like that… they don’t happen all the time, but they do happen. People would look at how much I’ve made on tour and assume that’s the exact amount in my bank account. Again, no complaints, it’s just that every job has a tough side to it. I’m from Perth, so you can imagine while I’m on the road I miss my family, my husband and everyone in Perth. Even then, it’s more about being at home versus being on the road.

The one week Jarryd and I can guarantee we’ll see each other is during the Australian Open, which since 2022 has been played concurrently across two courses, first in Melbourne in 2022 and in Sydney in 2023. I enjoy the mixed format together, but it’s the timing of the women’s event that is a problem. The Australian Women’s Open used to be held in February and it was co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour. Most of our top players came down. We want it back in the old time slot around February. What drew the girls to come was because it was right before the Asia Swing. So it was a similar time zone and not that far, even though it sometimes can be an eight-hour flight.

It has to be in February because nowadays you have the Grant Thornton Invitational – a mixed teams event with the PGA Tour – in December, which makes it difficult for tour pros to get to Australia for our Open at a similar time of the year. But I am all for men and women playing at the same time and at the same venue.

But by the time we’ve arrived at the Australian Open, hopefully I’ll have kicked some more goals on and off the course. 

Getty images: Donald miraLle