Change Of Heart

Thank you, USGA, for helping me find a way to play in the Amateur
August 13, 2006

I always thoughtthat the cliché about playing golf one shot at a time was silly, but I don'tanymore. With my future in the game so uncertain, I'm trying to savor everymoment. I have a bad heart, which seems about the craziest thing in the worldto me because I feel that my heart is so big and so full of love for my familyand friends, and for the game I adore.

The problem isthat I was born with only one instead of the normal two ventricles, the heartchambers that pump blood into the arteries. As a result a relatively small andoften insufficient amount of oxygenated blood circulates through my body, and Iget out of breath very quickly. I had two operations before I was two yearsold, which improved my heart function. The surgeries helped, but they weren'tenough to allow me to play most sports. That's how I wound up on the drivingrange--there's no running in golf.

I was six when Itook up the game and was smitten right away. I quickly got pretty good. When Iwas 10, I won the 12-and-under division of the California junior girls'championship, and soon I was among the best girls my age in the country. Ibegan to dream about making it to the LPGA--I still do.

This spring Iqualified to play in both the U.S. Girls' Junior and the U.S. Women's Amateur,which is taking place this week at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains,Ore. I was excited, but before I got to either event a problem arose: I startedto become exhausted every time I teed it up. It got so bad, I began rushing myshots and didn't care how they turned out, which isn't like me. I'm usuallyvery competitive.

My parents tookme to the doctor, and the news was not very good. He told me he wanted toinsert a tube in my heart to get a better idea of what might be wrong. Ipostponed this procedure until after the Amateur, but that still didn't mean Icould play.

If I wanted tocompete, I would need a cart and an oxygen tank, but in early July the USGAruled that it would not allow such accommodations. We appealed, and a weeklater the USGA reversed itself, letting me play in both tournaments with theequipment I needed. It's not ideal, but hey, at least I'm playing. I made it tothe match-play portion of the Girls' Junior on July 19, and my goal was to getat least that far this week.

Am I scared?Absolutely. Who wouldn't be? Both for my health and that I won't be able toplay golf again. But I'm not thinking about that now. I'm thinking about theAmateur, and I'm taking it one shot at a time.

TRUST ME by JIM GORANT

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PHOTOTODD BIGELOW/AURORA (KLINE RIDINGHIGH
The USGA refused then granted Kline's request for a cart.
SIX PHOTOSCORBIS (BALLOON); DAVID AUBREY/CORBIS (PIN); BETTMANN/CORBIS (EXPLOSION, HENRY KISSINGER); AL TIELEMANS (CLOCK); COURTESY OF CBS (INTERVIEW)
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)