SOUTHERN PINES, NORTH CAROLINA | Mexican golfer Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez was seven years old when a band of robbers broke into her home in Cuautla, Morelos. An hour later, her father arrived from work to find Ingrid, her mother, and her young brother locked in the bathroom, tied, gagged, and terrified.
“It was very hard. We had to move to a safer place in the countryside,” said Gutierrez Nunez, about the family uprooting to Lomas de Cocoyoc, a gated community with a golf course in the same state of Morelos, “extremely calm and safe, where there was not much else to do than play golf”.
And that’s how Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez, who is playing her third U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica this week, found a safe place and started a life in the game. “We never told her she had to practice. She would spend the whole day on the golf course, and we had to drag her home when it was already dark,” said her parents, Humberto and Astrid, as they were following Ingrid’s practice round at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.
Gutierrez Nunez, who missed the cut at her first two U.S. Women’s Opens at Country Club of Charleston in 2019 and The Olympic Club in 2021, won the qualifier at Stone Bridge Country Club, Illinois, to make it to North Carolina.
“I chose the Chicago area because my bother lives there, and it was easier for my parents to come along. There was just one spot, and my only option was to win. I was very patient during the whole 36 holes,” said Gutierrez Nunez, who shot a total of 142 to beat Jillian Hollis, a colleague and recent winner on the Epson Tour, by one stroke.
“Playing professional golf is harder than people think and a daily challenge,” said Gutierrez Nunez, who is No. 52 in the Epson Tour Race to the Card and who has a best finish of T19 at the IOA Golf Classic presented by LPT Realty this season. “It is a daily struggle to get to top 10 and break even.
“Sometimes when you play with the best of the world you can make yourself smaller, that’s what I used to do,” said Gutierrez Nunez about her experience in her previous U.S. Women’s Opens. “The most beautiful thing about golf is that regardless of who you are, anything can happen, and the course is going to force you to be the best you can be.”
For her third major, Gutierrez Nunez is trying to use the same sense of safety and connection with Pine Needles that she developed at her home course in Cocoyoc, “Land of Coyotes” in the indigenous Nahuatl, and a spiritual and healing center for many visitors from Mexico City.
“I feel that the course is giving me permission to be there, and I must recognize and respect that connection. I play better when I am grateful and connected with my surroundings. It gets harder when I use the mechanical and engineering side of myself,” said Gutierrez Nunez, who has a degree in Chemical Engineering from New Mexico University.
“When I use my artist and spiritual side, I enjoy the game a lot more and things flow,” added Gutierrez Nunez, while fondling with the bracelets on her wrists with the sacred eye, her chakras and San Benito. Her tools – along with her golf clubs – to feel safe at Pine Needles that remind her to stay “grateful, present, and patient.”