As Elsa Diaz’s accomplished golf career at the University of Richmond draws to a close, she still has quite a busy few weeks ahead of her.
The senior co-captain of the women’s golf team received a sponsor’s exemption to participate as an amateur in the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Kingsmill Championship.
The tournament starts in Williamsburg, Virginia, on May 17, just four days after Diaz graduates. After the Kingsmill Championship, Diaz will play in the NCAA tournament the following week.
After the NCAA tournament, she will lose her amateur status, at which point she plans to begin working toward earning her LPGA tour card in order to fulfill her longstanding dream of playing professional golf, she said.
“It’s always been a big dream of mine to play on the LPGA tour, but I never thought it would come this soon," Diaz said. "I thought I’d have to wait to get my tour card, then play.
"The most exciting part is being able to play right after graduation and right near Richmond. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like.”
Diaz started playing golf at the age of nine through a program called the First Tee, she said. She was awarded 2012 First Tee Participant of the Year and won the 2013 Speedgolf First Tee Championship. By the end of high school, Diaz ranked ninth in Texas and 105th overall in the 2014 graduating class.
Her success did not stop after she reached Richmond. In her first year, Diaz earned All-Patriot League Second Team honors, leading the Spiders in average strokes per round for the season with 77.60. She also had two top-10 and two top-20 tournament finishes.
This past season, she won the Boston College Intercollegiate Tournament with a 217 (+1) and scored a UR program record of 68 (-4) during the second round of the tournament. Most recently, Diaz helped lead the Spiders to their third-straight Patriot League Women’s Golf Championship.
In her pursuit of the LPGA tour, Diaz is not alone. With
“As a chiropractor, my dad saw all his patients with neck and back problems and started constructing a biomechanically sound golf swing," she said, explaining their mission together. "After every tournament, we’ll make tweaks and adjustments to find the perfect technique.”
Along with her father, Diaz also values her relationship with the Spiders women’s golf coach, Ali Wright. Wright’s first year coaching at UR was Diaz’s first year playing for the Spiders.
“We’re the only two on the team who have been here all four years,” Diaz said. “It’s been quite the journey, but our friendship will never be over. She is such a big mentor in my life.”
Despite all of her accolades and success, Diaz said the memories she cherished most from her college career were the friendships and bonds she had formed with her teammates. She said although competing and succeeding in tournaments was exciting, the laughs and jokes she had enjoyed with her team on the bus rides back to Richmond were irreplaceable.
Isabella Rusher, a junior on the women’s golf team, spoke highly of Diaz’s leadership on and off the course and of her infectious personality.
“Not only is she an incredible teammate and captain, but an even better person and friend,” she said. “Everywhere we go, she is always smiling, laughing, whipping out a new dance move, talking to people or making new friends.”
As she planned for the future, Diaz said she hoped her success would translate into her professional career. Becoming a professional golfer is no easy task, but Diaz's teammates are confident she has what it takes, Rusher said.
“She’s always been a fighter, and I know she will continue to be resilient and successful in all of her future endeavors,” Rusher said.
Contact sports writer C.J. Slavin at firstname.lastname@example.org.