Diagnosed with dyslexia at 16, Illinois grad and 2-time Academic All-American puts together tidy 3-under 69
BY ALEX PODLOGAR
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Her playing partners Kyle Roig and Ayaka Nakayama were still seated at the scorer’s table, several minutes after they had finished the second round of the 110th North and South Women’s Amateur.
Not to be rushed, Nora Lucas took her time, carefully going over her scorecard with her caddie Jon Klein. They meticulously went over the numbers, then went over them again. And again.
“I’ve signed a ton of incorrect scorecards in my life,” Lucas said. “I’m not good with numbers.”
And she will tell you she’s not good with reading, either. Diagnosed as a dyslexic at 16, the graduate of the University of Illinois has struggled with the learning disability for as long as she can remember.
“It’s a pretty severe case of dyslexia, unfortunately,” she said, “but we all have our issues to deal with. Now the role I’m playing is to tell kids who are like me you can still be successful. You can still do well in school. It might take you a little bit longer, but you’re still just as smart as everyone else. It’s just a different way of learning.”
It’s a tough road, no doubt. But she’s making golf look easy.
A native of Glenview, Ill., and diehard Chicago Cubs fan, Lucas carded one of the best rounds of Amateur on Wednesday, finishing a bogey-free round of 3-under 69 to move to 4 under and the top of the leaderboard on the second day of stroke pay at Pinehurst No. 8.
And golf’s a welcome respite for Lucas, who will work as a researcher this year at the University of Chicago while she prepares for law school. A double major in History and English while at Illinois, the two-time Academic All-American has always found solace on the links, even at the difficult 6,546-yard Pinehurst No. 8.
“Golf is something that obviously doesn’t involve numbers or reading,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t have to read anything, screw up the words or something.”
A walk-on at Illinois before earning a scholarship as a sophomore, Lucas wasn’t heavily recruited coming out of high school and was never anywhere near the phenom first-round lead leader Jaye Marie Green is. But the perseverance from dealing with her learning disability had an added effect on her maturation as a golfer.
“I’d try so hard and still get B’s, and I thought that’s how it was for everybody,” Lucas said of high school. “But I think that taught me a lot, especially with golf. If you really work hard at something, even with a disability, you can still compete at the highest level no matter what’s going on.”
And now she’s competing with several of the best amateurs in the world. Everything was right in line on Wednesday as Lucas opened her round on the back nine and carded two birdies on 13 and 14 before a string of eight pars. She then birdied the par-3 5th hole – her 14th of the day – before closing with four more pars.
Some of those pars were hard to come by, but with a red-hot putter, Lucas managed to salvage a few strokes with par saves from 10 and 20 feet.