AGE : 31
OCCUPATION: Professional golfer
GREATEST MOMENT ON TOUR: Helping the American team win the Solheim Cup—the women’s version of the Ryder Cup—in 2009. “To play with 11 other girls and get to play for your country … that’s pretty cool.”
CHARITY WORK: Serves as a board member for the Arthritis National Research Foundation.
FAVORITE PASTIME: “I love going to baseball games. I’m seven parks short of all the major league baseball parks."
Growing up in Conway playing sports with two older brothers, Kristy McPherson developed a serious competitive streak.
“I’d play football with them in the front yard, and they’d tackle me and throw me down, and I’d just stand back up and say, ‘That didn’t hurt. Is that all you got?’” she recalls. “I’d give it to them, and then I’d go in the house and start crying. But you never wanted to let them know that they got to you.”
That resilience helped McPherson deal with another staggering blow—being diagnosed with Still’s disease, a form of juvenile arthritis, at the age of 11. Several doctors told her that she would never be able to play competitive sports, but one doctor in Charleston gave her hope.
“He said, ‘You can play anything you want to play,’ ” she remembers. “Being the athlete that I am, being as competitive as I am, that was all I needed—another challenge.”
She took up golf on her father’s suggestion, eventually joining the boys’ team at Conway High School and earning a scholarship to the University of South Carolina, where she played on the 2002 SEC Championship team. She gained her qualifying card for the LPGA tour in 2007, and today thrives on the continual challenge of playing professionally.
“It’s you and the golf course and 143 girls playing each week,” she says. “The competition of it is just so much fun.”