Katja Pogacar is the first woman from the Republic of Slovenia to qualify for the Ladies European Tour having made her breakthrough with a tie for 19th place at Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Stage in Morocco in December.
Educated at Ohio State University in the United States, where she studied mathematics and biology for four years, the former ‘Buckeye’ from the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, carded rounds of 71, 72, 69, 71 and 72 to earn her tour card for 2018. She’s now looking forward to attending the LET’s Rookie Orientation week at La Sella Golf Resort in Dénia, Spain, on January 10-13, before playing in her first professional tournament.
“It means the world to me to qualify, because there have never been any golfers from my country and when I started golf it was not even considered a sport at all. Many people asked me if golf was a sport, but it has always been my dream and I always tried with this goal in mind,” she said.
Although according to Pogacar, there were not many courses in her country when she started playing at the age of five, although golf has been present for 70 years and Slovenia was named as the Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year 2015 by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).
Pogacar, who aside from golf also enjoys reading, watching movies, eating chocolate and who played the piano for 10 years, has been wearing the national flag on her clothing for a decade with one goal in mind. She says: “I won my first trophy in 2000, when I was six. My older brother and sister both played really well and of course I always wanted to do everything they did. What kept me going was being outside in nature, in the sun and I loved animals so I was always crawling around looking for them. Then I started to really love golf and I beat my sister, Ana, who is three years older than me. I always wanted to beat my brother, Nejc, who is six years older, but he continued to try to be a professional and I practised with him, but unfortunately he didn’t quite make it.”
Her golfing ambition is to represent her country in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after golf successfully returned to the four-yearly sporting showpiece at Rio 2016 after an absence of more than a century. She is proud of her country, which has a population of 2.06 million and borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the north-east, Croatia to the south and south-east and the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is determined to represent it with distinction.
But it is a big step from collegiate golf to the professional world and next week she will learn all about life on tour at the LET Rookie Orientation week, where she will also be able to get in some early-season practise on the fantastic Jose Maria Olazabal-designed golf course and facilities at La Sella Resort in Alicante, along with the other potential stars of the future.