Nine months ago, Kendall Prince was battling two very different opponents in the AJGA Junior at Centennial. Not only was she competing against the tournament field, but also against her own body.
“I had no energy,” Prince said of her 15th-place finish. “After the tournament my parents told me to put my clubs away and take it slow but I just got sick. I’m normally a workaholic but my body just shut down.”
Doctors were unable to diagnose the problem after a battery of tests, and uncertainty was mounting in more ways than one.
Around the time of the tests Prince was also taking her official visits to potential colleges, including The Ohio State University. Even though she had been playing well – she’d had three top-10 finishes before the AJGA Junior at Centennial – her future was clouded by her undiagnosed condition.
Eventually after more and more tests, including a liver biopsy, doctors diagnosed Prince with autoimmune hepatitis, which was believed to have been caused by an antibiotic she had been taking. Prince said that tests showed her liver enzyme counts were extremely high; her own body was fighting itself as her immune system attacked her liver.
“I was basically in bed for four months,” Prince said. “For awhile I’d have to call my mom in from the other room for help when I wanted to even sit up because my body was so weak.”
By November and December, her abnormally high liver enzyme numbers came back down and she began to slowly recover.
Prince’s first tournament back since fighting the illness was the 2011 ANNIKA Invitational. Even though she wasn’t near full strength, she finished fifth in a loaded field that featured nearly all of the Polo Golf Rankings Top 10 girls.
“I was in contention down the stretch and I just started to get teary-eyed in the fairway on 16 because I finally felt like I was back,” Prince said.
Last weekend at a challenging Ranch Course at Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club, Prince scrapped and clawed for 36 holes and pulled out a victory – her second AJGA win and just her third event of the year.
The signature moment of her round came on the par-3 17th, after second-place finisher Hannah Suh stuck her tee shot to within 10 feet. Prince replied with a missile that landed just four feet from the cup. She closed out the win on No. 18, calmly dropping a short par putt to finish the round at 2-over-par.
After the round, the future Ohio State Buckeye spoke of keeping a positive attitude and eventually grinding out the win despite a tough course and a body that still isn’t fully recovered.
The AJGA Junior at Diablo Grande was a statement by Kendall Prince that she is finally back. Call it drive, call it determination, call it guts – she has it. And she knows better than most what it means to fight through adversity and deliver in the face of it.
-Written by Jake Sittler, AJGA Communications