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Olivia Mehaffey is feeling the love in her native Northern Ireland

Olivia Mehaffey is feeling the love in her native Northern Ireland

ANTRIM, Northern Ireland – A twinkle surfaced in Olivia Mehaffey’s eyes as she fondly recalled the last time her father graced the fairways at one of her events, the 2021 playing of the ISPS Handa World Invitational.

Philip Mehaffey hadn’t gotten out of bed in months after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2020, but after a motorized scooter was delivered to his home in the small village of Scarva, Northern Ireland, he came to see his daughter make good in her first LPGA start.

Although she expected him to simply make a quick appearance, Olivia was utterly impressed by her father’s determination to see her play, and the support helped spur her on to a top-20 finish.

“I kept looking every fairway and I’m like, oh, my gosh he’s still here. I think he needs to go home,” Mehaffey said Wednesday at Galgorm Castle Golf Club as she prepared for the final playing of the ISPS Handa International, as it was announced this week the event was not included in the 2024 DP World Tour schedule.

“So just having him there every round was so nice for me. So I think probably just those memories and like how special it was to have him there beside me every shot, every hole.”

Soon after her triumphant home debut, Mehaffey’s life slipped into a dark place. Her father succumbed to the disease in December 2021, and the former Arizona State star – one of three Sun Devils to earn All-American honors in all four years of college – threw herself headfirst into the game as a means to deal with the pain.

To open the 2022 season, Mehaffey subjected herself to a golf gauntlet; an eight-week stretch of consecutive tournaments that saw her passport stamped in South Africa, Thailand, Australia and Spain. When it was over, her game was slipping and she was flirting with a dangerous mixture of exhaustion and uncertainty, both on the golf course and off. She finally had a self-diagnosed breakdown after pulling out of the Skafto Open in Sweden nearly a year ago.

That’s when Mehaffey knew she needed time to process what she’d been through. Away from the game she loves.

“Grief is the weirdest thing I’ve ever been through,” she told the Irish Times as part of a fascinating read. “I think that’s one of the reasons people don’t talk much about it. It’s because it’s so hard to explain. You don’t know when it’s going to come.

“I’ve had times when I’ve felt totally fine, and then all it’s taken is one thought to trigger it and I’m a…


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