It was almost 10 years ago that Tim Hobby thought he would turn down a request by some parents to give golf lessons to their 8-year-old daughter.
“I told them, ‘Thanks, but I really don’t teach many 8-year-olds,'” Hobby remembers saying. But before he could recommend someone else, the parents made a push for Hobby to reconsider.”They told me, ‘No, we think you might want to take a look at this one,'” Hobby said.
So Hobby watched a young girl from Mexico named Marijosse Navarro absolutely stripe a ball straight away from the practice tee. When the thought ‘Surely, that was an accident,’ crossed Hobby’s mind, Navarro hit another one. And another. And long before the little girl reached the bottom of the practice bucket, Hobby’s mind flitted in another direction.
“Well,” he thought, “I’m not doing anything else right now.”
Marijosse Navarro moved away from the practice tee that day and has kept hitting them straight. Now a 17-year-old freshman at Texas A&M, Navarro recently finished sixth in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship in Tulsa. She was even-par for 72 holes, including her final two rounds of 68-66 (6-under-par).
“She’s a ball-hitting machine,” Hobby said.
Navarro last week was named to the NCAA Division I All-American second team by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. Alison Lee of UCLA (the Bruins finished third in the team standings at NCAAs) was a first-team selection and was chosen ahead of Navarro as Freshman of the Year.
Navarro is from Mexico City, and she appears to be working in fast-track fashion toward an attempt to land on the LPGA Tour. After her late run into the top 10 at the NCAAs, Aggies coach Trelle McCombs said Navarro is “a special player … the real deal. She played like a true champion.”
“Maybe next year I will try to qualify for the pros (through the LPGA Tour school),” Navarro said. “But right now I want to play my best and have fun. And I’m happy with the results.”
Navarro has been successful in the Mexico National Team program before hitting the radar in this country with play in AJGA events. As a freshman at Reagan High School, Navarro was third in the 2012 UIL State Class 5A Tournament with a final-round 68. That came after two rounds in the 60s while winning her district tournament and a pair of 72s landed her in the playoff for the regional title.
She left Reagan and finished her college entrants requirements at Blessed Hope Academy on San Antonio’s Northwest side and enrolled at Texas A&M in December.
“She had a 3.6 GPA here, completed her SAT and was a very hard-working student,” Blessed Hope Academy director Alice Ashcraft said. “She was steady, reliable and focused. Her parents were right here with her, and although she was very quiet and called no attention to herself, her parents were very proud of her and were always beaming.”
While in Mexico City, Navarro’s family lived next to a golf course. By age five, Navarro’s senses drew her to the green space next door.
“I liked the sound of the golf ball when it’s hit,” Navarro said. “And I loved the smell of the grass.”
If the push for Navarro to play professionally continues, she’ll stay at Texas A&M one more school year. Once done with the academic year next May, the first stage of LPGA qualifying typically begins in August, with two more stages through December 2015.
The Aggies are getting a quick return while she’s in College Station. She’s played in four college tournaments and has finished in the top 12 in each, including a win at the Battle at the Valley in South Carolina (74-70, even par for a four-stroke margin) and a second at the SunTrust Garor Invitational in Florida (71-69-65, 5-over to miss a playoff by a shot).
Her role model is no surprise for someone from Mexico. It’s major champion winner Lorena Ochoa.
“Yes, she played so well, but she was always in a great attitude,” Navarro said. “That’s what I want to do, to have fun like she did. And I just try to play my game.”
She’s not one to talk about her results. And that fits in with what Hobby remembers about Navarro.
“Golf, the way she plays, make the expression for her,” he said. “She’ll let her clubs do the talking.”
They’ve spoken volumes so far.