Collins eyeing LPGA debut
Taylor Collins was sworn to secrecy, and she obeyed the command.
Collins, a 24-year-old Doral native, had competed in Golf Channel’s competition-based reality show Big Break Mexico in January and February.
Not even her parents knew Collins had won the 16-player competition — one golfer is eliminated each week, with only the champion remaining — until it was televised on July 29.
“By that time, my parents were out of the country on vacation,” said Collins, who starred at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and Nova Southeastern University. “I ended up watching the finale by myself.”
Collins, who plays in the developmental Symetra Tour, won $50,000 in cash plus another $50,000 in prizes.
“For once, I’m not broke,” said Collins, who lives with her parents in Davie. “I don’t have to ask my mom for money for the movies.”
But Collins said the biggest prize she won wasn’t the cash — it was an exemption to the Nov. 14-17 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico, which will be her first LPGA event.
Collins earned that right by beating Tampa’s Matthew Galloway in the Big Break Mexico finale — 18 holes of match play. This was the 19th season of the show, and it was the first time a woman beat a man in an 18-hole finale.
“It was more fun to beat a guy,” said Collins of the competition, which started with eight men and eight women and eliminated contestants each week based on different golf challenges.
“It’s cool to know that I’m the first girl to do it, but I’ve grown up around guys. I’m pretty comfortable competing against them.”
Keeping her secret was in some ways harder than winning.
“It was pretty difficult,” Collins said. “When you hadn’t been playing good golf [on the Symetra Tour] and then you win Big Break, I kind of wanted to tell people.”
Her family, friends and fans all know now. She received roughly 100 text messages on the night the finale aired. One of the messages was from Lorena Ochoa, the former top-ranked women’s player in the world and the namesake of the tournament Collins will compete in this fall.
“It took me hours to respond to everyone,” Collins said. “I don’t want to be rude. I appreciate everyone who supported me.”
High on that list are her mother and father, Mimi and Keyron, who called from Mexico when they found out she had won.
“They called me with a bunch of friends, and they were all screaming and crying,” Collins said. “I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.”
Keyron said he, his wife and their friends had a great party that night and added that he admires his daughter for never giving up the secret.
“She has a great poker face,” he said. “She never even gave us a twinkle in her eyes.”
Keyron, a teaching golf pro, said she got her start in the game by following him around the course.
Wanting to improve his knowledge of the game, Keyron met with different instructors until he came upon Boca Raton resident Bob Toski, a former pro golfer who was the leading money winner on the PGA Tour in 1954 and played on the Senior Tour (now Champions Tour) in the 1980s.