ATHENS, GA.—It’s not every year that a senior gets to close out her career playing her home course on the biggest stage in college golf—the NCAA Women's Championship. But Emilie Burger, who won the Mason Rudolph Championship last fall and the Bryan National Collegiate this spring, is doing just that. Though the Bulldogs failed to qualify as a team, the 22-year-old from Hoschton, Ga.,, a three-time All-American, qualified for her first national championship by shooting one-under 212 at the West Regional at Stanford GC.
“It’s a dream come true to be playing in this event on my home course. I started out playing junior golf here. The whole golf program has been such a blessing,” said Burger, who through three rounds this week at the University of Georgia GC has played solid stretches of golf despite scores of 75, 77 and 75. Big numbers have been her problem with three double bogeys and a quadruple bogey over 54 holes.
Burger began attending annual summer golf camps at Georgia as a child and still uses the Bulldog headcover she received from Todd McCorkle, the former Georgia women’s coach, for being named "Camper of the Week" as a kid.
“Ever since I got that headcover I’ve wanted to be a Bulldog,” said Emilie.
At the end of the month, Burger will play in a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier in Sanford, N.C., then will play a schedule of Symetra Tour events for the rest of the season. She’ll turn pro after Friday’s final round.
“It’s going to be difficult,” said Joan about not being able to watch Emilie play on a regular basis. Added Gary, “We won’t be there to talk to her after a tough round. But [former Georgia women’s coach] Beans Kelly gave Emilie some great advice. She said, 'People will advise you to change this or change that. But keep playing with what got you here. Just focus on improving what you already do.’ “
Kelly followed Burger’s third round and shared some memories about the soon-to-be professional. “She came to my golf camp when she was about 8 and she was all in for Georgia. She was enamored with the Bulldogs. You could tell that this kid had a future here.
“She obviously has talent, but she also has a very competitive fire in her belly," Kelly said. "Her demeanor on the golf course is something to be modeled after. She’ll get fired up inside, but you always know you’re going to get a committed golf swing from her. She’ll leave here a decorated athlete and her mark on Georgia golf will definitely be felt.”
Current women’s coach Josh Brewer thinks the younger members of his team can learn a lot from Burger. “Her work ethic is off the charts," Brewer said. "She could have easily settled for being an All-American honorable mention, but she wanted to be the best player in the country. That desire will help her at the next level.”
Despite not playing her best this week, Burger will take a lot of positives from her time at Georgia to the next level. Not the least of which is her old, mangled Bulldog headcover.