Coming into the final day at the Forest Lake golf course, IMG Academy golf program student Ginger Howard knew what she needed to do to come out on top. At 17 years-old, Howard clinched her first victory as a pro.
The Suncoast Series event may have been a new environment for Howard, but her play did not reflect any intimidation. Ginger shot rounds of 72-70-64!
"I had a 65 goal in my head," Howard states confidently. "I've had that mindset since I shot a 66. I knew I wanted to break that."
She did more than break a 66. Shooting a 64 on the final day, Ginger Howard won by 9 shots. For her, it's more than just beating the competition. It's a mentality that requires focus, fundamentals, and confidence. Howard accredits her coach, Nathan Bertsch, for the cerebral changes in her game.
"Nathan definitely brought a lot of mental and fundamental factors into play," Howard believes.
"One of the key areas that Ginger and I have worked on in the past couple months is more applicable to the mental game," Bertsch confirms. "Before, Ginger would pay too much attention to what her competitors were doing when she was in contention."
Howard agrees. "He's taught me a lot about the positivity and mentality of the game."
Based on her recent triumphs, it's easy to assume Bertsch has helped Howard tap into a different kind of game, and a successful one at that.
According to Bertsch, "She is nowfocusing on playing her game and not even looking or comparing herself with other players. The goal is to turn a 2 shot lead into a 3 shot lead, and then a 3 shot lead into a 4 shot lead. If the focus is on moving forward and winning by as many shots as she can, then she will be less likely to get caught up in the moment and get defensive, causing her to create thementality of just trying to hold on to the lead."
It seems like a simple concept, but for Ginger, becoming a professional is not something she is taking lightly. "It's definitely a change, a different mindset," she says when referring to the pro game. It appears that Howard has made a smooth transition into this attitude, and she has made it look easy.
When Ginger isn't working on her aesthetic swing, or practicing her precise putts, she spends time with her family. As the oldest of four children, Howard enjoys going to the movies and the beach with her siblings and her parents, Robert and Gianna. In fact, her younger sister Robbi, who is also an IMG Academy golf program pupil, will be caddying for Ginger at the upcoming Qualifying Tour.
At age 16, Ginger Howard led the U.S. Team to a victory at the Jr. Ryder Cup in 2010. As a young woman, she has experienced an immense amount of success, winning over 60 tournaments. With the outlook and determination she possesses, it is apparent that Howard will continue to be triumphant throughout her career.