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Playing through the pandemic: Former Idaho star Sophie Hausmann sharpened game in Arizona awaiting Symetra Tour restart

No galleries were around when former University of Idaho standout Sophie Hausmann teed it up at professional golf tournaments in Arizona during the coronavirus outbreak.

The German native heard plenty of reaction from her homeland.

“My parents and my brother totally got it, ‘You should stay there, the weather is nice, play golf,’ ” Hausmann said. “But some of my friends were like, ‘You’re not coming home? No, you can still play golf?’

“You kind of get both things. Some understand it and it makes sense and others were, ‘How can you do that? You have to stay at home.’ ”

It made sense for Hausmann, who was anticipating a season on the Symetra Tour before the LPGA’s developmental circuit shut down in early March after one tournament.

Hausmann had a nice debut, finishing tied for 22nd at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic and pocketing $1,357 before adjusting her plans to the Cactus Tour.

Hausmann stayed in Phoenix with Sophia Popov, a Symetra Tour veteran with LPGA experience. Popov, who played at USC, grew up in Germany before her family relocated to Phoenix.

“I really appreciated it and they said I could stay as long as I wanted, even after seven weeks,” said Hausmann, who first met Popov at youth tournaments in Germany.

Hausmann played in five Cactus Tour events in March and April, finishing third twice in tourneys won by Popov. Players adhered to numerous safety guidelines, including social distancing and one rider per cart.

Hausmann placed ninth and Popov tied for 10th at Moon Valley Country Club as two-time LPGA major winner Anna Nordqvist claimed first place. Three more LPGA players finished in the top five.

“The level was pretty good for developing,” Hausmann said of the Cactus Tour. “You get a feel for how it feels to play for money. The entry fees are high and you have to play well to get you’re money back, which is good pressure as well.”

Hausmann is back home in Nottuln, Germany, visiting family and practicing before the Symetra Tour restarts in July. She works on her game at a course nearby.

“I had to take a break,” she said. “I decided to come home and see my family because my season is probably going to go long, maybe (into) December, and I had to come home (to renew) my visa.”

Hausmann stays in touch with Lisa Johnson, Idaho’s coach during Hausmann’s decorated amateur career and now the coach at Nebraska. The Vandals’ 2016 Big Sky championship team recently caught up via a zoom call.

Hausmann anticipates returning to the U.S. several weeks before the Prasco Charity Classic in Cincinnati July 8-10, partly because international players probably will face a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

Hausmann sealed her spot on the Symetra Tour by reaching the second of three stages at LPGA qualifying school. She was one shot from making the third stage, “which over four rounds, one stroke, you know how upset you get about that,” she said.

She also secured playing privileges in January for the Ladies European Tour. She played in two LET events in February, but her sights are set on the Symetra Tour. The top 10 on the Symetra money list earn LPGA cards.

She could adjust her schedule depending on what unfolds this summer with the coronavirus in the U.S. and overseas.

“I want to get on the LPGA,” said Hausmann, who was disappointed to learn that the Symetra tournament scheduled for Circling Raven in August was canceled.“In my mind, the Symetra feels a little better to get to the LPGA.”

Hausmann’s game continues to improve.

“That’s the good thing,” said Hausmann, a quality ball-striker who is spending additional time on her short game. “Even if I’m not playing (competitive golf presently), I can still get ready and stay in shape.”

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