When Jaye Marie Green made it to the LPGA, she began pulling herself in several different directions.
She studied Michelle Wie’s swing and tried to swing just like her. She watched how Stacy Lewis putted and attempted to mimic the putting style of the No. 1 golfer in the world. She looked at Natalie Gulbis’ fashion sense and tried to replicate that same style.
In the midst of trying to emulate her idols and her rivals, Green strayed away from what got her to the LPGA.
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Finally, she learned that the most important thing was to stay true to her own principles.
“I didn’t know how to be someone that wasn’t me,” Green said Saturday at Highland Meadows in Sylvania. “It was so stressful. I learned you can improved by being who you are. If I like Michelle Wie’s golf swing, I’m going to try to find a way to do it on my own.”
Green shot an 8-under 63 in Saturday’s third round of the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I, and she enters today’s final round tied for third with So Yeon Ryu at 10-under 203. Yet Green’s first year on the tour has come with adjustments.
“The traveling, the new hotels and houses every week, trying to stay who you are and not really knowing anyone at the beginning and making friends, and sponsors, and it goes on and on,” Green said. “But I think the main thing is to stay true to who you are and not really change. And I’ve changed a lot since being out here.”
Green’s season has also brought its struggles.
Prior to the Marathon Classic, the 20-year-old made the cut in five of her first 14 events; her best finish came at the JTBC Founder’s Cup in March in Phoenix, where she finished 19th.
Green missed the cut at the Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship and the Women’s U.S. Open. After an early exit at the Women’s U.S. Open, Green took two weeks away from the tour to return to her home in Boca Raton, Fla.
“She came in and had so many thoughts on her mind, and she was crying,” said her father, Donnie Green, who has caddied for her this weekend.
“She decided, ‘I just want to be free,’ and then she made it. But your rookie year does that to you. You try and change everything and see everybody around.”
She also got some help from Lewis earlier this season, taking part in a three-hour round solely devoted to chipping and putting.
“That helped me a lot,” Green said. “Just in a sense of knowing, wow, there’s a lot of girls out here on this tour that genuinely care about this.
“It’s such an individual sport, and to see someone care about someone other than themselves — while they’re ranked No. 1 in the world — is just the coolest thing. It taught me a lot.”
Even in Sylvania, Green made a change.
“Hey, I dyed my hair last night,” she said, lifting her baseball cap to reveal a head of hair the color of red wine, with two black tees tucked into her ponytail. “I do the craziest, weirdest stuff. It was red two days ago, now it’s a deep burgundy.”
Green ended 2013 by setting a qualifying-school scoring record with a five-day total of 331, at 29-under par over 90 holes.
At the time, she regarded it as a springboard to her start in the LPGA. But she didn’t see the entire spectrum of what her next step in golf meant for her.
“It was a blessing and a curse at the same time,” Green said. “It’s huge because it got me out here, but I put so much pressure on myself. I was not shooting many [rounds] under par each day. To go from feeling like, ‘I should be doing this all the time,’ to not doing that at the time, I was just kind of bumming. Now it’s slowly, but surely, coming back together.”
After she shot a 72 on Thursday and a 68 on Friday, that may have started for Green on Saturday.
“My dad told me, ‘Jaye, you’re getting real close to getting back to being Jaye Marie Green, so just keep plugging along and a low one’s going come for you,’ ” Green said. “I said, ‘All right, that sounds good.’ I didn’t really believe him, but now I do.”