EVANS, Ga. – Siyun Liu noticed him from 100 yards away. Zipping by the airport terminal, her dad was carrying a match polo she’d purchased him – and, most clearly, he was waving. Embarrassingly. Like any mother or father desirous to see their youngster.
“I saw him and I was just like, Oh my Gahhhhhd!” Liu stated, blushing. “Typical parent stuff, right?”
Except this reunion was something however odd.
Before this week’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Liu hadn’t seen her father, Weiqing, in almost 15 months, because the world shut down due to COVID-19. Back in January 2020, father and daughter had teamed as much as make a spirited run at PGA Tour China Q-School, the place Liu, then a senior at Wake Forest, was vying to turn out to be the primary feminine to qualify for a Tour-sanctioned circuit. (She later withdrew with damage.) When they stated their goodbyes that week, they deliberate to see one another once more in mid-February, at a university match in California. Little did they know China was about to lock down.
And so for the previous 12 months, Weiqing (nicknamed William) and his spouse had been virtually confined to their house in Shanghai. Retired after working as a real-estate investor, William, 55, solely left to retrieve the groceries left outdoors the entrance door, ready a half-hour to go in case the virus lingered on the luggage.
Back within the States, in the meantime, Siyun (nicknamed Swing) noticed her short-term plans upended. She had meant to complete out her closing season because the chief of the top-ranked Demon Deacons after which attempt to navigate LPGA Q-School, however each choices quickly had been eradicated.
“It was definitely a mental breakdown for a while,” she stated, “because you try to prepare for so many different options, and then life threw that at me.”
The NCAA prolonged a lifeline to graduating seniors, providing one other 12 months of eligibility. (The ACC would later cancel the autumn portion of the 2020-21 season.) With her professional plans scrapped, Liu signed up for a one-year grasp’s program finding out enterprise analytics. Instead of a summer season stuffed with newbie tournaments and professional planning, she balanced early-morning exercises and vary periods with a hellish workload of 10 half-semester lessons. That changed into a blessing: At least it stored her thoughts occupied.
After all, COVID isolation hits in several methods. Kids couldn’t play with their associates. Grandparents couldn’t go to their households. And a global school athlete like Liu – at 21, an grownup however not but unbiased – couldn’t return house to her mother and father as a result of she feared being caught there, away from her desires, 7,500 miles away.
With the 12-hour time distinction, they nonetheless video-chatted each day for at least 10 or quarter-hour. “Seeing them face-to-face on screen on FaceTime, the emotional connection is still there,” she stated, “but the physical part is a little tough. The biggest thing is when I’m sick and no one is here to take care of me. That’s when it’s like, Ahhhh, this is so bad!”
Keeping a busy schedule and with prohibitive journey restrictions, Liu has gone by this complete super-season at Wake not sure when she’d subsequent see her mother and father. The separation was significantly exhausting for William, who had launched Swing to golf at age 2, viewing it as a built-in excuse for household time.
“I thought that when I’m getting older, she’d have the time to be with me,” he stated. “If she comes for dinner, it’s maybe two hours and she’s going to leave. But if we can play golf, then we have four or five hours together.”
“That didn’t turn out how he planned it,” Swing stated with amusing. William doesn’t play a lot golf anymore, however 4 or 5 occasions a 12 months he’ll log the 15-hour journey to look at Swing play a match. “That way he’s still around,” Swing stated. “The whole spending-family-time part is still working.”
Ranked 56th on this planet, Liu had certified for the second annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur, however with the journey ban nonetheless in place, and the household’s exemption request caught in authorized limbo, she couldn’t rely on her dad to caddie for her like they’d deliberate in 2020. Wake coach Kim Lewellen had agreed to hold the bag … till Augusta National stepped in, serving to push by the journey waiver at the final minute. William was notified on March 18 that he’d been cleared to journey. He drove to the hospital to get examined and obtained the damaging end result about 24 hours earlier than he was set to fly out.
“It was realllllly tight,” Swing stated.
But he arrived final week in Greensboro, North Carolina, after earlier stops in Seoul, South Korea, and Detroit. The marathon journey didn’t dampen his enthusiasm – thus his delirious response within the airport.
“According to my dad, I didn’t seem as excited as I felt,” Swing stated. “But I’m SO excited. I couldn’t even fall asleep!”
Because of the quarantine guidelines, Swing dropped off her dad at a Best Western close to campus, the place he slept off the jetlag and labored out with train bands and bounced off the partitions. Cleared after three days, he stayed the following few nights at Swing’s condo, crashing on the sofa or taking the master suite if his daughter’s research stored her up too late. He handed the time cooking and cleansing the loft.
“She has her own life going on, too,” he stated.
They’re not all collectively as a household, not but at least, as Swing’s mother stayed again in China. William booked a return ticket for August, since returning house would require a strict 21-day quarantine through which every incoming passenger is examined for each the virus and antibodies upon arrival after which taken to a delegated resort, the place they’re additionally accountable for selecting up the three-week tab (roughly $1,500). “Yeah,” he stated, shaking his head, “it’s not a U.S. quarantine.”
And so after greater than a 12 months aside, father and daughter will spend at least the following 4 months collectively. They have a lot to atone for, so many vital moments to expertise: NCAAs. U.S. Women’s Open qualifying. Q-School. And, in fact, Swing’s first look right here at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which begins Wednesday at Champions Retreat.
“This is such a special place,” William stated, proudly carrying his caddie bib. “And it’s really special that Augusta can make this trip possible so that I can be with my daughter.”
The objectives are fairly well-defined for the 82 rivals within the invitational area. They all need to make the top-30 lower so as to play within the third and closing spherical Saturday at Augusta National. Liu may even comply with within the footsteps of the inaugural champion, Jennifer Kupcho, her former Wake Forest teammate.
But that’s not what’s on her thoughts this week, with her father again by her aspect.
“I’ve never really even thought about winning the tournament,” Swing stated, “because it’s about to become a dream come true. Without this tournament, I didn’t know when I was going to see my family again. I just want to enjoy the time that we can finally be together.”