Malaysia’s Mirabel Ting celebrated her 17th birthday shortly after she arrived at Augusta University. Her father, Thomas, believed she was mature enough to handle all that comes with moving across the world to chase a dream.
Mirabel couldn’t possibly imagine, however, just how much she’d grow as a college freshman, in ways no teenager should have to face.
Augusta coach Caroline Haase-Hegg can still hear her players saying, “Coach, Coach,” in the van as they drove to Statesboro, Georgia, last October for Georgia Southern’s home event. Haase-Hegg looked back to see a devastated Ting, who’d just received word from home that her father had died from a massive heart attack.
“It was horrible,” said Haase-Hegg. “We were right about to Statesboro, and I didn’t know what to do. Do we turn around; do we keep going?”
She called Georgia Southern coach, Mimi Burke, who, like Haase-Hegg, has Purdue roots. They drove to Burke’s home, sat together as a team and cried.
At first, Mirabel insisted that she wanted to play in the tournament. It’s what her dad would’ve wanted, she thought. But by the next morning, she’d come around to the idea that she needed to get home. They drove back to Augusta to collect her things and put her on a plane at the Atlanta airport.
“At that point, I didn’t know if I’d see Mirabel again, to be honest” said Haase-Hegg.
Ting came back a few weeks later and tried to assimilate back into college life, but it proved too much. She returned to Malaysia for a second time to grieve.
“My only concern was Mirabel’s health,” said Haase-Hegg. “She was in a really dark place. I had no idea what was going to happen.”
Thomas first brought Mirabel to the course when she was 3 years old as a tag-along with her older brother. She grabbed her brother’s driver, which stood taller than her, closed her eyes and took a swing. The ball flew 50 yards.
“My dad was like, ‘This girl can play,’ ” said Mirabel.
Back home in Malaysia, Mirabel knew her father would want her to finish her degree before turning profesisonal. It was a tough decision, leaving her mother alone to pursue college life in Augusta, Georgia, but Mirabel returned to campus with a renewed sense of focus and peace.
“Whenever I played bad, (my dad) would just ask me what happened and what goes wrong,” said Mirabel. “He would always say that I didn’t practice enough.
“I literally told myself when I got right back to Augusta – I need…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Golfweek…