Rachel Rohanna deplaned with her daughter Gemelia at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday and headed toward baggage claim. What happened next might foreshadow what’s written in the stars for the Epson Tour Championship and Race for the Card, or just be a case of another curious kid.
“We walked by the Disney store and I knelt down and said, ‘G, this week is really important to mommy. I’m going to need your help; I might get a little nervous.’ She goes, ‘Ok, momma.’ And then goes, ‘Look,’ and pointed to a sign that had this gigantic turtle with his arms stretched out. It said, ‘You’re this close,’” Rohanna said laughingly. “I’m just like, how does she know this stuff? Obviously, she can’t read it. She just thought the turtle was cute. But that was a pretty cool moment.”
This week, Rohanna returns to the Jones Course at LPGA International in Daytona Beach for the Epson Tour season finale. She has special memories from over the years at this location, in this event, and she hopes to add to them. In 2015, she finished in a tie for 24th to earn $1,553. That was just enough—$284 in fact—to finish at No. 10 in the Race for the Card.
“That was probably one of the most nerve-racking moments of my entire life,” said Rohanna.
Then in 2017, Rohanna was six weeks pregnant with Gemelia and won the Epson Tour Championship. Fast forward four years, and Rohanna is No. 9 in the Race for the Card. She has Gemelia in tow. And her LPGA Tour destiny is in her own hands.
“It’s always going to be a special place for me. Going back to 2015 when I earned my card here, I feel like I’m in the exact same position as I was then,” said Rohanna. “I keep telling myself that I’ve been in this position before and played this course many times, so really trying to let my game take over.
“Something I learned that year [in 2015] is anything can happen, especially the final day. In your favor or not.”
In her ninth year on the “Road to the LPGA,” Rohanna has found a consistency reminiscent of her 2015 Epson Tour graduate campaign. She has played the weekend 16 times in 18 starts. That includes nine top-25 finishes and three consecutive top three performances in the month of July.
“I haven’t felt this confident in my game in a long, long time,” said Rohanna, who leads the Epson Tour in eagles with eight. “Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this comfortable with my game before. It’d be amazing if I could get my card back.”
She is at a different place in her life now than in 2015, or even 2017, but the desire to reach the LPGA is still the same. And having Gemelia by her side makes the journey worth it.
“Every week she says to me, ‘Mommy, did you win at golf? Did you win at golf? I can’t tell you how hard it is to tell her, ‘No, but I’m trying.’ I keep telling her I’m going to get her one,” Rohanna said. “It’s pretty cool to have her as a little cheerleader and do all of this [travel, competing] with her.
“That first year on the LPGA is difficult. Whenever you go through the Epson Tour and you’ve grinded, you’ve worked so hard for an entire year, and you almost feel you can relax. Hopefully going into next year with a LPGA card, I know now that you really can’t relax. Yeah, you’ve made it really far. But at the same time there’s still so much to accomplish.
“My whole perspective is a little different, but I would love to say I’m a Epson Tour graduate, again.”