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Why Kaitlin Milligan is enjoying walking the dog instead of walking Augusta National this week

OU golfer Kaitlin Milligan, seen during the NCAA regional in Norman last spring, was set to play in the Augusta National Women's Amateur this week. It has been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS]
OU golfer Kaitlin Milligan, seen during the NCAA regional in Norman last spring, was set to play in the Augusta National Women's Amateur this week. It has been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS]

NORMAN — Kaitlin Milligan went on a walk around the neighborhood with her mom and sister the other afternoon. The sun was out. The breeze was soft. They had their dog with them, too.

It was nice.

But it wasn’t the walk Milligan dreamed about taking this week.

The Norman North product and OU golfer had been invited to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Seventy-two of the world’s best amateur female golfers. Three rounds the week before The Masters. A chance to play one of golf’s most celebrated courses.

But like everything else during the coronavirus pandemic, the women’s event at Augusta has been put on hold.

“Growing up, you never think you’re going to get to play at Augusta National,” Milligan said.

She was so close.

Now, she doesn’t know when, or even if, it will happen.

“There are rumors going around that they’re moving The Masters to October,” she said, “so hopefully, the am can kind of fall in line with that.”

But even with a dream delayed and a future uncertain, Milligan isn’t moping around her parents’ house. She’s disappointed, of course, but she’s finding good amid the bad.

In January, she got the invite to Augusta. Then a little over a month later, Milligan found out she’d been selected to represent the United States at the Arnold Palmer Cup. While 24 college golfers, both men and women, will be picked to compete against an international team this summer in Ireland, Milligan was among the first six Americans selected.

Quite an honor.

But then a week later, Milligan and her Sooner teammates were pulled off the course during a practice round in Arizona.

“We’re like, ‘What? The tournament canceled?’” Milligan said. “And then like an hour later, ‘Oh, wait, everything’s canceled.’

“It was shocking.”

For several days, Milligan tried to wrap her head around everything. Her golf schedule this spring was packed — there was a stretch where she expected to be away from home for two weeks straight — and suddenly, she found herself living at her parents’ house not able to leave home.

But it didn’t take long for Milligan to start seeing positives.

For the past year or so, she’s had tendinitis in her wrist. While hitting out of a bunker earlier this spring, she hit a rock and caused a bad flare up.

Milligan was told to take four weeks off.

“Which I would never be able to do,” she said.

She kept playing, but her performance was affected. After finishing the fall with two consecutive top-10 finishes, she was nowhere near the top of a leaderboard this spring.

“I didn’t want it to look like, ‘Oh, my gosh, she got worse;’ that part was hard,” she said. “But now, I think we’re getting it under control.”

She hasn’t hit a golf ball for nearly three weeks, and when she went to the course with her dad and boyfriend earlier this week, it was the first time she’d even been on a golf course in weeks. She just watched them play, though her dad let her putt a bit.

“I don’t know if that’s cheating,” she said.

She laughed.

“That felt good. It’s nice to just see the ball go in the hole.”

After Milligan gets the all clear from her doctor, she expects to ease back into hitting balls. Even though most summer events are on hold, the Palmer Cup is still on in July, and Milligan expects to be better prepared for it because of this break.

She’s not only seeing the positives of coronavirus cancellations but also taking advantage of the time she has on her hands. She is studying more than she usually has time to during the spring. But she and her sister are also is in search of a great recipe for healthy cookies, her family is binge watching Netflix shows together, and Milligan even started painting.

“I don’t know if you can say that I took up painting,” she said, "but I’ve been painting.”

During these days, she has decided to focus on silver linings instead of darkness.

“It took awhile for it to set in and to realize, ‘OK, this probably is what’s best,’” she said. “I really do think it’s an opportunity to grow and get better.”

Kaitlin Milligan can’t wait to get back on the golf course. She still dreams of seeing Rae’s Creek and walking Amen Corner at Augusta National, but for now, walks in the neighborhood aren’t all that bad.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or jcarlson@oklahoman.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.

Related Photos
<strong>Kaitlin Milligan played well in the fall, but the OU junior suffered a wrist injury this spring. Coronavirus cancellations have given the Norman North product a chance to rest her wrist that she wouldn't have had otherwise. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS]</strong>

Kaitlin Milligan played well in the fall, but the OU junior suffered a wrist injury this spring. Coronavirus cancellations have given the Norman North product a chance to rest her wrist that she wouldn't have had otherwise. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5779e05e6e52632db25bb34fc9ea087a.jpg" alt="Photo - Kaitlin Milligan played well in the fall, but the OU junior suffered a wrist injury this spring. Coronavirus cancellations have given the Norman North product a chance to rest her wrist that she wouldn't have had otherwise. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS] " title=" Kaitlin Milligan played well in the fall, but the OU junior suffered a wrist injury this spring. Coronavirus cancellations have given the Norman North product a chance to rest her wrist that she wouldn't have had otherwise. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS] "><figcaption> Kaitlin Milligan played well in the fall, but the OU junior suffered a wrist injury this spring. Coronavirus cancellations have given the Norman North product a chance to rest her wrist that she wouldn't have had otherwise. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-94d1be6909f11f4242b46f6f09c28796.jpg" alt="Photo - OU golfer Kaitlin Milligan, seen during the NCAA regional in Norman last spring, was set to play in the Augusta National Women's Amateur this week. It has been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS] " title=" OU golfer Kaitlin Milligan, seen during the NCAA regional in Norman last spring, was set to play in the Augusta National Women's Amateur this week. It has been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS] "><figcaption> OU golfer Kaitlin Milligan, seen during the NCAA regional in Norman last spring, was set to play in the Augusta National Women's Amateur this week. It has been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. [TY RUSSELL/OU ATHLETICS] </figcaption></figure>
Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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