Paige Spiranac heads to Capitol Hill

Chris Lingebach
April 24, 2018 - 6:42 pm

Paige Spiranac may no longer refer to herself as a professional golfer, but she's still doing her part to grow the game.

Spiranac, who prefers to be called a "golf ambassador" or "social media influencer" (because it's just less controversial that way), was on Capitol Hill Tuesday to promote the "We Are Golf" message, that golf is an $84.1-billion industry with a substantial $4-billion annual charity imprint.

It's been several years since Spiranac's played in an LPGA tournament, so she's grown weary of the criticism that comes her way when calling herself a pro golfer. The fame thrust upon her as an overnight sensation, she admits, didn't boost her confidence heading into her first event, the Dubai Ladies Classic in 2015.

"It was my very first Tour event," Spiranac told The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan. "It ended up turning into this big spectacle of like, 'Why is she here? Does she deserve it?' Like, all this stuff. So the very first time, I was so nervous I couldn't handle it. I was like a wreck and it was very obvious I was a wreck."

A brief glimpse into her world...

After a full ride to play golf at San Diego State, Spiranac didn't have the financial means to keep up with her passion. Around that time is when her newfound fame struck.

"It's such a weird story," she said. "So, someone wrote an article about me, it ended up going viral, and then overnight I gained a ton of followers and then it just kind of snowballed into this, I guess, 'sensation,' social media sensation. I ended up getting an invite to this tournament."

"I had a lot of negative reactions," she said of playing in Dubai. "A lot of people said I didn't deserve to be there, I was only there because I could bring attention to the tournament. Which is what they wanted, and that's what they got."

"Well, and that's the reason Tony Romo just played on the Web.com (tour)," noted Jason Bishop.

"Yeah. And people don't understand that sponsored exemptions, it's not taking a spot away from anyone," Spiranac said. "The tournament has the right to do whatever they want. They're putting this tournament on, they're paying for everything, and so they bring, usually it's like five to 10 people in every single tournament."

Spiranac's star continues to rise despite her critics - she just made her SI swimsuit issue debut.

Gosh I’m still in disbelief-- But @si_swimsuit! Still so thankful to the entire #siswim team for believing in me❤️ #loveyourself #bodypositivity #ownit #bekind --- @jamesmacari

A post shared by Paige Spiranac (@_paige.renee) on

In the meantime, she's just fine with her role as "ambassador."

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