Former NCAA golf champion Haley Moore says she once considered giving up the sport due to bullying she experienced early in her career.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, Moore opened up about how getting bullied as a teenager made her question her place in the sport. She said she was gossiped about for her weight and social awkwardness, while parents accused her of cheating during competitions.
“Through my junior life, I was pretty bummed out and depressed by it,” Moore told the website. “I didn’t really know if I wanted to continue golf just because I thought I did something wrong. And I was like, maybe I shouldn’t have tried this sport and maybe I just need to take a break and figure out what I need to do.
“Golf was pretty much my life and I just, I wanted to compete and get out there. If anything in my life is going not so well, I just know that I can distract [from] it all and go out and play golf.”
The 21-year-old, who turned professional last year, told herself bullies couldn’t control her life and set her aspirations on competing in the LPGA tour, which is set to resume later this month.
Moore graduated high school early and enrolled at the University of Arizona, where she quickly earned three top-10 finishes as a freshman and began to truly find her game. She won the 2018 national championship for Arizona as a junior and tied for seventh at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
But there were more obstacles for Moore to overcome. Shortly after graduating, Moore had to set up a GoFundMe in order to help pay for entry fees ($3,000 each), hotel stays, road trips, car rentals and for a caddie. She raised more than $37,000.
“Everyone has a story for their background,” Moore said, “and if you tell the story, then you have complete strangers who you don’t know go on there and be like, ‘Oh, I want to watch this, I want to follow her career.’ And then any amount of money is greatly appreciated.”
However, Moore’s charm and passion for the sport previously won the hearts of those at the country club attending the 2015 ANA Inspiration Champions Junior Challenge, which she won at 16 by four strokes. People offered to house Moore during the tournament week in August and she also had a host family in Australia.
“It’s pretty cool to have people like that,” she said. “That really does save a lot of costs.”
The Illinois native went on to make her professional debut at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia, registering a bogey-free 66 on the very first day. And although she missed the cut, Moore has several upcoming opportunities to show what she can do.
“It was just a dream of mine to go out there and just go play, and pretty much this first year [in] the LPGA for me is just to go have fun and enjoy the experience,” Moore said. “But then [it will be] just try to play really good golf and show how far I can come from when I first started to now.”