From the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society to the LPGA? Former NCAA Champion takes it one step further

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Is Virginia Elena Carta the most complete professional in golf? The NCAA champion turned Cambridge graduate is certainly a solid argument after taking another big step towards getting an LPGA card.

Qualifying School is a grueling 288 hole event. Carta took the second step in the number and returned home to Italy on Tuesday to prepare for the upcoming eight-round Q series on the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama in December.

The school happens to be where Carta excels, and she is already a member of one of the oldest golf societies in the world, having survived and thrived in an academic challenge to be part of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society. , known simply as The Society.

Virginia Elena Carta and the Cambridge Blues Golf Team (courtesy photo)

Last September, Carta became the fourth woman to participate in the University Golf Match (aka the Varsity Match) between Oxford and Cambridge, which dates back to 1878 and is the oldest amateur golf event in the world.

Last year’s Varsity Match took place at Muirfield, shortly after the historic club welcomed its first female members. In 2022, Muirfield will host the AIG Women’s British Open for the first time.

If the affable Carta qualifies, she knows it couldn’t be more difficult than the Varsity Match, when she played the tips, as she has done every time she competed for the Blues team. from Cambridge.

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The weekend’s competitions included 36-hole competitions held at the UK’s top courses including Royal Porthcawl, Royal St. George’s, Rye, Sunningdale and the Old Course. The Blues team faced off against the best members of each club, and Carta had fun using her driver and 3-wood while enjoying a stimulating conversation.

When asked if friends thought she was crazy delaying a professional golfer career to pursue another degree, Carta said she had heard otherwise: “You are crazy to give up your studies and your work to actually pursue the LPGA. “

Virginia Elena Carta of Duke competes in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Women’s National Golf Championship at Blessings Golf Club on Saturday May 18, 2019 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Tim Cowie / Duke Athletics)

Carta, named after author Virginia Woolf, graduated from Cambridge with a “Mphil” in environmental policy (equivalent to a master’s degree in the United States). She also earned a degree in environmental science and policy at Duke, where she won the NCAA individual title as a freshman in 2016, then helped Duke win a team title as a senior in 2019. She was also a finalist at the 2016 US Women’s Amateur, won by Eun-jeong Seong.

When the opportunity to study at Cambridge presented itself, Carta knew her LPGA dream would have to wait.

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“It’s hard, I’m not going to lie,” she said of her time at Cambridge. “It is difficult to keep playing and training and focusing on golf while pursuing a high level education.”

After graduating from Cambridge, Carta worked as a consultant at Domino Printing Sciences until July. The money she earned there kick-started her professional career. Carta made her professional home debut in May at the Ladies Italian Open, where she held the spotlight and missed the cup.

“The fact that I had a rough start was great for me,” she said, “because it just woke me up and made me realize it wasn’t as easy as I was. thought so. “

Virginia Elena Carta with her Cambridge team at Muirfield for the Varsity Match.

However, a tie for fifth place at the Swiss Open and a share for sixth at the French Open in September gave Carta a boost of confidence ahead of Phase II.

However, getting his game back in order wasn’t the only need. Carta said that without the sponsorship of Lineage Logistics, she should have stopped playing.

At Q-School, where Carta continued her new tradition of not looking at the leaderboards (even after the turn on her phone), she survived a gnarly double bogey on a par-5 that she tried to reach in. two Sundays that included more tops and pieces than are suitable for printing.

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But then she almost battled for the Eagle on the next hole and kept it together enough to finish 3 under in Venice, Fla., Joining current Duke player Gina Kim (T-19) as two. of the 47 players to advance. .

“It was hard; it was intense; it doesn’t matter, ”Carta said with a smile. “I’m just glad we did.”

Although Carta left Duke over two years ago, her legacy lives on in the Birdies For Babies program she launched in 2018. The fundraising effort throughout the year benefits the units of neonatal and pediatric intensive care at the hospital and has raised nearly $ 70,000 to date. between the men’s and women’s Blue Devil golf teams.

“What more can you hope for from a person than to be academic, generous and also a successful athlete? Duke’s coach Dan Brooks once asked. “It’s pretty special.”

The very definition of doing everything.

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