When Tahnia Ravnjak found herself watching more tournaments than she was playing in North Carolina last year, she realised it was time to come home.
The Cordeaux Heights resident had spent five memorable years in the USA, forging a reputation as one of the most decorated players in Campbell University’s history.
It culminated with the opportunity to take up an assistant coaching role at the college after her graduation.
But Ravnjak was quick to discover that she still had unfinished business on the course.
“After watching some of the players play at a Spring Break tournament, I just got this gut feeling,” Ravnjak recalls.
“I called up my mum that night and said I really need to come home and work on my game after this season [of coaching]. I didn’t lose my passion for the game, but I wasn’t playing well during the final semester of my senior year. I think having that year off coaching, the break really ignited the fire again. It was a blessing in disguise.
“I learnt a lot about myself in that year and a lot about what I wanted and where I wanted my golf game to go.
“I think it was the best decision I made.”
Just how important her decision proved to be was only fully realised earlier this month when Ravnjak secured her first international professional card.
The 24-year-old, who only turned pro this year, secured her Chinese LPGA Tour card with a superb performance on Hainan Island last week.
After earning her first cheque as a professional a week earlier at the Victorian Open, the talented right-hander led virtually all the way to snatch her spot on the tour. Ravnjak set the pace early as she fired rounds of 67-71 before fighting off the challenge of Chinese amateur Zhang Yue in the final round at the Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula’s West Course.
She had four birdies in the final seven holes to card 70 for the round and finish at eight-under for the tournament, three shots clear of Yue.
“I am not one to really focus on the scores of other players or adjust my game plan for others but you could tell we were really close,” Ravnjak said.
“It’s something you can’t really ignore when you are both making birdies.
“She was two in front with seven to play and I made four birdies to get it to eight-under. It was a really solid finish.
“I was really happy.”
Ravnjak put the performance down to the hard work she has put in with her team of coaches since making her return to Australia.
“The last six months has been pretty hard. It’s been really full on but it has really helped me to perform well the last few months,” Ravnjak said.
“The hard work has paid off and I am really happy with the progress and the results. It’s exciting times.”
Ravnjak played out of Port Kembla Golf Club growing up, but is a regular at courses all over the Illawarra to work on her game.
She is now a member of The Australian Golf Club.
She narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Australian Open this week, but will continue to play on the ALPGA Tour before she heads to China next month.
Her first tournament on the Chinese Tour will be the Brunei Ladies Open, which is a co-sanctioned event with the Korean Tour. The Open tees off on March 17.