South Jersey native learns from golf's pros

Meghan Stasi, a South Jersey native, competed as Meghan Bolger before her marriage in 2009.
Meghan Stasi, a South Jersey native, competed as Meghan Bolger before her marriage in 2009.
Posted: June 01, 2012

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. - Meghan Stasi has competed against quite a few of the players participating in this week's ShopRite LPGA Classic. Six in the field, including Stacy Lewis, the world's No. 7-ranked player, were teammates of hers on the successful 2008 U.S. Curtis Cup team.

But the South Jersey native, who competed as Meghan Bolger before her 2009 marriage to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., restaurant owner Danny Stasi, says she doesn't second-guess her choice to remain an amateur rather than work toward becoming a member of the LPGA Tour.

The world's fourth-ranked women's amateur, according to GolfWeek, Stasi will tee it up Friday on a sponsor's exemption as part of the 144-player field on the Bay Course at Seaview Resort.

Stasi, who celebrated her 34th birthday on Wednesday, planned to qualify for the tour after receiving her master's degree from Mississippi. But at age 23, she accepted the school's offer to become head women's golf coach, a position she held for seven years.

In 2007, she decided to enter the second stage of the LPGA qualifying tournament, saying at the time, "It's time for me to try it," but fell short of earning a spot in the qualifying finals.

"If I didn't try, then I would have second-guessed myself, for sure," Stasi said Wednesday. "But I did give it a chance. I've had success on the amateur side, so I'm very happy with that route and what I have done and continue to do. There's a lot to accomplish out there."

Stasi, a graduate of Eastern High School in Voorhees and Tulane, has won three U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championships and competed in two U.S. Women's Opens. Locally, she captured seven consecutive Philadelphia Women's Amateur titles from 1999 through 2005.

Stasi, whose one other LPGA event was last year's Kraft Nabisco tournament, may be one of the older contestants this weekend, but she said she still learns so much when playing with the professionals.

"I respect every single player out here for what they have to go through week after week," she said. "I learn a lot every time. I just sit there and watch. I enjoy that aspect of it. I soak in as much as I can. But I'm also a competitor, so I'm going to go out there and compete as hard as I can."

She said part of it is watching the pros on the practice range to see whether she can pick up any tips.

"I like to listen to them on the range," she said. "I don't do very much different from them, so that's pretty neat."

As far as her own game, Stasi called it "pretty solid." She said the key for her this week will be driving the ball in the fairway and keeping it out of the thick rough.

It's a rare trip north for Stasi, who helps her husband in his restaurant, "Shuck and Dive," when she's not competing. She expects a lot of family and friends to come out to watch her, but she has no idea how many.

"With our crew, you just never know," she said. "I've got a lot of family. My mom still teaches at Eastern; she's got a whole crew. So it will be fun. I'm looking forward to it."

One family member sure to show up will be her brother, Rusty Bolger, who will caddie for her.

The ShopRite will be preparation of sorts for a busy summer season. Stasi will compete in late June in the British Women's Amateur at Carnoustie in Scotland. She also has the U.S. Women's Amateur and Women's Mid-Amateur, as well as the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst, N.C., and the Women's Trans National in Sheridan, Wyo., on her schedule.

"I play as many as I can," she said. "It's fun. I'm keeping it fun and getting out there as much as I can."

Contact Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or Follow @joejulesinq on Twitter.

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