It’s not easy to make it onto the LPGA Tour. This pro has to do it twice
So often we hear stories about what it was like making the PGA Tour from the Korn Ferry Tour, but this week we look at Jillian Hollis’ journey from the Epson Tour to the LPGA Tour. Hollis won twice and finished fifth on the 2019 Epson Tour money list to earn her LPGA Tour card, but then had to deal with the fallout from the pandemic and injuries.
She lost her card after the adjusted season ended in 2021. She played both tours with dual status in 2022 but is back on the Epson Tour full-time this year as she works her way back to the LPGA.
(Ed. Note: These questions and answers have been edited slightly for clarity and brevity.)
Jack Hirsh: I know it was just an event, but how would you say your 2023 launch is going so far?
Jillian Hollis: It’s good. We’ve had quite a long off-season, so 2022 and 2023 kind of blend together and it’s like November, December, January, February, March. I’ve had a pretty productive off-season and also had a lot of rest, which is really great. I had a good tournament last week. I’ve been playing golf pretty consistently and pretty tough conditions and it’s really great to see my hard work paying off pretty early. I thought it was nice to have the week off to refine some things.
Hirsh: You had almost as good a start as you could have hoped for last week with second place. Does that change anything when you try to get your card back?
Hollis: It doesn’t change anything. My goal is to get a little bit better every day and every week. I think if you’re too results-oriented, you’re thinking about it too much, okay, I need to close this, I need to be here. I love to play competitive golf. i love to win I love it, you know, I love going out and meeting people, that’s what I love about this game, it’s like you put all that work into it by yourself and then you can go and put it to the test . And I love having that little bit of edginess or pressure, and that’s where historic golf shots come from. That’s the most exciting thing about playing every week or every other week for a living. It’s the best job ever.
Hirsh: This is your second stint on the Epson Tour, how was the first season?
Hollis: It was different from college golf because it’s the same grind but different. In college you play a tournament and you have two or three weeks off. You have all your college stuff in between. When I started with the Epson Tour in 2019, I was still finishing my studies in Georgia. It was a good balance between golf and life. It doesn’t even feel like work. I’ve always enjoyed grinding.
Hirsh: How motivating is it to come from a school like Georgia that has had so much success in both the men’s and women’s professional games?
Hollis: I’ve never played English with Harris, but he’s in St. Simons Island, Georgia, where I live. A lot of the guys who graduate move here. I played on the golf team with Greyson Sigg for two years. I play with Sepp Straka. They are all really good players who have had success on the PGA Tour. Harris is one of the nicest people I have ever met, as is Hudson Swafford. I get to ask them questions and talk to them and it’s a really cool environment. It’s really nice when you see PGA Tour golfers cheering you on. Any little treat I can get from people who have had this experience of winning at the highest level is definitely awesome.
Hirsh: You earned LPGA status after a year on the Epson Tour and then lost it again in 2021 after a pretty crazy couple of years. Did you see that as a setback?
Hollis: We took a five-month break from golf [because of the pandemic] in the middle of the busiest route. Before that I was in a tournament with Inbee Park. And she’s a legend. It was so much fun watching her play. Then we get this email about the coronavirus but that it was only in China. Our next tournament in China has been cancelled. Then I go back to the States and get ready for the next tournament and they’re like, ‘Okay, it’s here now. We’re taking a month off.” Then one month became two months, then three. We had no idea what was going on. But I mean having that as my rookie year? It might have been a bit of a disappointment. Then in early 2021 I had an injury that bothered me and I was out for seven weeks. I failed to apply for a Medical by One tournament. You must miss so many in a row.
Hirsh: What lessons did you learn?
Hollis: Don’t kill your body just to try and cut because it’s your first year. It stunk back then, but now I’m so thankful for everything that happened back then. It made me mentally tougher in that regard.
Hirsh: What would you like to know?
Hollis: That there would be a global pandemic [laughs]. Do you mean on tour? I hired a trainer. I never really wanted to take care of my body at school. But if you’re playing 20-25 weeks a year, you need to train while you’re playing.
https://golf.com/news/lpga-tour-isnt-easy-jillian-hollis/ It’s not easy to make it onto the LPGA Tour. This pro has to do it twice