“My dad would bring me out to the course as a kid, and I just stayed quiet and watched, but that’s how I learned,” Collins said. “If you see my swing, you see Bob’s. I’m like a replica of him.”
Keyron said he met Toski eight years before his daughter was born.
“She’s been groomed for [golf],” he said. “We put her in soccer so she could train her feet and baseball so she could train her hands.”
Toski, who has written several golf books, was an analyst for NBC Sports and was inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, said Collins has “unbelievable” competitive instincts.
“She’s only 5-1, 115 pounds, but she won’t back down against anyone,” said Toski, who still teaches golf at age 86. “She hits it long for a little girl [about 250 yards]. She gets more out of her body, pound for pound, than any girl I know of.”
Added Keyron: “If you are good enough, you are big enough. The golf ball doesn’t know how big you are or how old you are.”
Collins said she gets her athleticism from her childhood days as a self-described “tomboy.” She would play all kinds of sports, including street hockey with her older brother Ryan, 25. She also played point guard for St. Thomas Aquinas, hoisting three-pointers with regularity.
But while Ryan only played golf through high school, Collins took it further, winning three Division II national team championships and one individual national title during a stellar career at Nova.
Making a living at golf hasn’t been nearly as easy for Collins, who turned pro in 2011 and estimates she spends 15 hours per day on the sport. That includes working out, practicing, reading about golf and watching it on TV.
“I’m obsessed with golf,” Collins said.
Her love of the game was put to the test on Big Break as contestants got little rest. They got up each day at 4:30 a.m. so they could get filmed having breakfast. From there, it was a full day on the golf course and then recap-type interviews that often lasted until midnight.
Winning made it all worthwhile for Collins, who supplements her Symetra Tour earnings with work as a substitute teacher and a junior golf rules official. She is also entering her third year as Aquinas’ golf coach.
But her main focus is preparing for her LPGA debut in November.
“Playing an LPGA event is a dream,” Collins said. “I wanted that exemption so bad. This is one of the best tournaments to play because they invite the world’s 36 best players. I’m the odd [woman] out.”
Collins said she looks forward to talking to the veteran players and watching how they prepare.
Toski advised Collins to get to the Guadalajara Country Club three or four days early so she can study the layout.
“She will see a golf course she won’t believe,” Toski said. “It’s more like a big obstacle course with changes in elevations and contours. She’s used to playing flat courses. This one is like Mount Vesuvius.”
Toski said Collins’ biggest weakness is her bunker play. Her putting has improved. In fact, she has never putted as well as she did on Big Break.
“The doors are wide open for her now,” Toski said. “She should make the [LPGA] Tour. She’s attractive, and she knows how to use the camera. If she works hard, she is going to make a lot of money.”