The griev­ing golfer can’ t help but feel be­low par

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - Real Life -

port­ing ace Ta­nia Tare has caught the at­ten­tion of golf fans around the world with her daz­zling skills on the green, but be­neath her pol­ished ex­te­rior, the Auck­lan­der is nurs­ing a bro­ken heart after the death of her beloved fa­ther.

“My dad hasn’t left my mind since he h died,” Ta­nia tells tells Woman Woman’s Day sadly. “It has been a re­ally hard ad­just­ment not hav­ing him around. He was a great dad. I knew if any­thing hap­pened to me, he would fix it.”

The 28-year-old has be­come an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion in re­cent years, thanks partly to her Tiger Woods-in­spired golf tricks, which in­clude flip­ping clubs, and jug­gling and bounc­ing balls in a num­ber of spell­bind­ing ways. They’re skills that have caught the imag­i­na­tion of more than

88,500 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram.

Ta­nia takes some com­fort from the knowl­edge that be­fore her trea­sured dad David Gilbert­son died in June, he’d seen just how far his sporty daugh­ter had soared in the com­pet­i­tive world of pro­fes­sional golf.

Es­pe­cially be­cause when she first showed u an in­ter­est in a sport­ing ca­reer, the former busi­ness­man strug­gled to un­der­stand. Ta­nia ex­plains, “He was quite old-fash­ioned. He thought I needed to start my own busi­ness. He didn’t un­der­stand how golf and be­ing an ath­lete could lead to a re­spectable fu­ture. But then he saw Ly­dia Ko’s suc­cess and he fi­nally un­der­stood what I was try­ing to achieve.”

With her focus firmly on the LPGA tour, Cal­i­for­ni­abased Ta­nia – who re­cently com­peted in the New Zealand Women’s Open – is tipped to have plenty more sport­ing suc­cesses in front of her, but sadly, David will not be there

to cel­e­brate at the 19th hole.

He suf­fered from var­i­ous ail­ments over the past decade, in­clud­ing bowel can­cer, kid­ney fail­ure and low liver func­tion, and a month be­fore he died at 70, Ta­nia flew home from the US to spend some qual­ity time with him.

She jumped on a flight back to Aotearoa once again when she re­ceived news that her fa­ther’s death was im­mi­nent, but she ar­rived at his Palmer­ston North Hos­pi­tal bed­side an hour too late to kiss him good­bye one last time.

“I’ve never seen any­one love as loy­ally and gen­uinely as Dad loved his kids,” says Ta­nia qui­etly. “He was not the af­fec­tion­ate dad, but he showed he cared in dif­fer­ent ways.”


De­spite her grief, Ta­nia’s ca­reer con­tin­ues to blos­som. Grow­ing up in Pon­sonby, the gifted Kiwi be­came fas­ci­nated with golf tricks as a 12-yearold after see­ing Tiger Woods bal­ance a ball on a club in a TV com­mer­cial.

“It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen to do with golf,” she re­calls, smil­ing. “So I grabbed some clubs and started learn­ing how to jug­gle the ball be­tween my legs. Up un­til then, I’d never even hit a golf ball, but I quickly found I could do the trick.”

Two years later, Ta­nia’s step­dad took her for her first game of golf and she dis­cov­ered she had a nat­u­ral ap­ti­tude. Soon, she was reg­u­larly lug­ging a set of clubs around the course and she went on to be­come one of NZ’s lead­ing am­a­teur play­ers.

In 2009, at 20, Ta­nia took up a schol­ar­ship to at­tend Florida In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity in pur­suit of her dreams of be­com­ing a pro. She grad­u­ated in 2013, but hit a ma­jor speed bump when she needed three op­er­a­tions on her wrists in the same num­ber of years. It was dur­ing this pe­riod that she started per­form­ing golf tricks as a way to re­lieve the bore­dom and frus­tra­tion of be­ing on the side­lines.

“Friends and fam­ily started tag­ging me in videos from other golf trick-shot per­form­ers, ask­ing if I could do this trick or that trick. I thought, ‘That looks cool,’ so I went to the range to prac­tise.”

Ta­nia be­gan film­ing her ex­ploits a cou­ple of years ago, but it was only after a mon­tage was posted on an In­sta­gram page called Women with Drive that her pop­u­lar­ity ex­ploded. “The next day, my phone started go­ing crazy,” she grins. “One of the most re­ward­ing things is hav­ing friends who have no in­ter­est in golf see my tricks and then com­ment that golf is cool.”

These days, Ta­nia spends most of her time fo­cus­ing on her game so she can play on the LPGA tour, but she still finds time to work on new and ex­cit­ing tricks. “I love com­ing up with a trick shot, pulling it off and cap­tur­ing it on cam­era. I love the chal­lenge.”

Fair­way Tare-away! Hot­shot Ta­nia’s got her tricks with the bbal­lll ddown tto a ttee. “He was a great dad,” says Ta­nia of her beloved fa­ther (above and left). Right: Learn­ing her moves while bat­tling back from in­jury. h t

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