Nepali teen Pratima Sherpa gets private lesson from Tiger Woods
April 25, 2018 02:44 PM NPT
KATHMANDU, April 25: The 18-year-old aspiring golf pro from Nepal attended the weekend premiere in New York of a film made about her life learning the game while living in a shed alongside a golf course in Kathmandu.
On Tuesday she was in Florida for a lesson with Tiger Woods. From maintenance shed to aspiring pro, Pratima Sherpa chases her dream
Raised in a maintenance shed on a golf course in Nepal, Pratima Sherpa aspires to become her country’s first female professional golfer.
With the help of a longtime donor to Woods' foundation, along with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi and Kristen Lappas, Sherpa made it to Jupiter, Florida, where Woods was scheduled to give a clinic at a private outing held at Medalist Golf Club.
Inspiring day working with my @TGRFound team and meeting Pratima Sherpa, an amazing young woman from Nepal. We can all learn from her perseverance, hard work and determination. pic.twitter.com/rV5KAtKzzl
Having learned that Sherpa was coming, Woods met with her prior to the clinic, giving her a lesson on the back of the driving range for 30 minutes -- she used his clubs -- and later introducing her to those in attendance, all donors and sponsors to what is now known as the TGR Foundation.
"Pratima is simply incredible," Woods said via email Tuesday. "I read her story and I was amazed. The chance to meet her and talk to her was really inspiring. It was great to witness her journey and to see the happiness she exudes."
Woods also took to Twitter to praise Sherpa. The 14-time major champion first became aware of Sherpa more than a year ago, via a Golf Digest story about her ambition to become her country's first woman professional golfer.
Woods wrote a letter of encouragement that he sent to the Royal Nepal Golf Club, and it eventually made its way to her.
"The letter I received from Tiger inspires me to play well," she said Tuesday. "I was surprised to receive the letter. Everyone knew about it but me."
Sherpa has lived all of her life in a maintenance shed on the third hole of the Royal Nepal Golf Club. Her parents are laborers at the course, and while they make a small wage of just a few dollars a day and live in extremely modest conditions, the proximity to the course allowed Pratima to learn the game.
As part of her development, Sherpa last year traveled to the United States and stayed with the family of Mike and Tanya Montano in Ventura, California. Having heard about Sherpa's story, they reached out with an offer to have her come to the United States and play in several junior tournaments.
The Montanos' daughter, Sophia, who had spent a semester studying in Nepal and also had college golf experience, also gave guidance to Sherpa, who stayed for five weeks in California before going back home.
Through the efforts of Lappas, the producer of the ESPN film that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, Sherpa was able to attend the viewing. David Fontanilla happened to be at the screening.
He is a longtime donor and supporter of Woods' foundation, and he arranged for Sherpa and Sophia Montano to fly to Florida on Monday, stay in a hotel and fly back to New York for another screening of the film on Tuesday night.
After meeting Woods, Sherpa got in a golf cart with him and traveled to the back of the driving range, where she used his clubs and hit barefooted. Woods gave her a tip to help hit the ball farther and she played various clubs out of his bag.
When the lesson concluded, they got back in the cart and headed to the front of the driving range where the clinic took place. Woods introduced her to those in attendance and had her hit several tee shots with his driver, imploring her to "not dent the club," to considerable laughter.
"It's special she was here for a day with my foundation," Woods said. "It demonstrated to all of us what hard work and belief in yourself can accomplish. The story of her journey is inspiring. We can all learn from what she's done."
Sherpa is scheduled to return to Kathmandu this week. "This was the best day of my life," she said. "I was so happy to meet Tiger."