Last spring, Florida State University’s Alex Milan was miserable. She was laboring with a misdiagnosed neck injury that she carried from high school. Her golf game was wavering. She was worn down by difficult core courses in her finance major.
“You start to wonder, ‘Why am I even out here (on the golf course)?’ None of this is making me happy,’’ said Milan, the former Tribune Girls Golfer of the Year from Steinbrenner High. “It was to the point where it was going one way or the other.’’
Milan’s life slowly took a turn for the better.
And now, as she leads the Seminoles into today’s NCAA East Regional at Tallahassee, Milan is brimming with optimism about her golf game and her future.
Physical therapy — and attention to the proper posture — fixed her neck problems. Her golf became more consistent during a heavy summer of activity and that carried into this FSU season, where she won the Florida Challenge tournament at 2 under par.
Milan, a junior who was named to the All-ACC team, is one of the most improved players in college women’s golf. She has a stroke average of 74.41, an improvement of more than three shots from her first two FSU seasons.
“It might sound basic, but she had to alter a lot of things, like the way she stands up, her posture, being conscious of her neck because a lot of times these kids are constantly studying and their neck is consistently looking down into a book,’’ FSU coach Amy Bond said. “The physical part was something that could be corrected. The mental toughness is a little more delicate, but that’s what she has displayed.
“You never know how players will respond, but she came back with a great season. Her confidence has returned and it’s a great thing to see.’’
It took a while, but eventually, Milan rediscovered her love of golf. It was more than striking the ball more effectively. It was about relishing the process.
“I just love the challenge of it,’’ Milan said. “You can try and hit the perfect shot all you want, but you’re going to fail about 95 percent of the time. That makes it such a mental challenge.
“I just love the quiet mornings when you’re out there ready to tee off and compete. I feel like I’ve done a great job of competing and that’s the fun part.’’
In turn, Milan has set an example for her younger teammates.
“This game will humble you in a hurry and Alex has shown us all some tremendous perseverance,’’ FSU freshman Lydia Gumm said. “She hung in there and the work is coming back to her now.
“We have no seniors on this team. To know that we have a young nucleus and more experienced players like Alex, that speaks well about our future. If you run into tough times, you just keep playing and you get better. That’s what Alex did.’’