Olivia Mehaffey isn’t particularly interested in herself. She wants to talk about her peers on the Arizona State University golf team, her sport and her home town of Banbridge, Northern Ireland. She doesn’t brag about her own personal athletic standing, though it’s impressive: She’s currently ranked No. 17 in the world amateur golf rankings, won sixth place at the Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship and competed in all 13 tournaments in ASU’s 2017-2018 season with eight top-10 finishes. Mehaffey, now a junior at ASU, picked the school because of “all the successful pros it had produced,” and while she could choose to turn pro early, she says she’s intent on staying all four years and finishing her degree in interdisciplinary studies. She put the golf club down and chatted with PHOENIX about the best place to grab Irish food in the Valley, how she prepares for a game and what she does with her limited free time.
Who are your three favorite professional golfers?
Tiger Woods: “[He] changed this game due to how successful he was. He gets more people interested in golf.”
Carlota Ciganda: “[She] graduated from ASU, she hits it far and has such a great game.”
Rory Mcilroy: “[He] is from close to where I live in Northern Ireland and his swing is amazing.”
Where do you get good Irish food in the Valley?
“In Phoenix, [I like] the The Kettle Black [Kitchen & Pub], and in Glendale, there’s Tim Finnegan’s [Irish Restaurant And Pub]. I can’t get my friends to come with me. They always say, ‘Irish food isn’t that good.’ And I’m like ‘Seriously?’”
What’s your favorite way to relax after a long day of playing?
“Usually, I have to do a lot of homework at the end of the day, but when I get time, it’s probably watching something [on] Netflix.”
How do you prepare for a match?
“I listen to a lot of music. I listen while I’m getting ready, before and after I play. I have a playlist and I find a few songs that I usually play on repeat. [Right now, I’m listening to] ‘So Close’ [by NOTD and Felix Jaehn] and ‘The One’ by The Chainsmokers. They’re just so catchy and fun.”
You travel a lot to play. What are your travel necessities?
“Laptop, a book – right now I’m reading Tiger Woods’ book [The 1997 Masters: My Story, co-authored by Lorne Rubenstein] and it’s amazing – and always water and headphones.”
What is your favorite faraway location for playing golf?
“I’ve been to so many amazing places, but it’d have to be Hawaii.”
What’s your favorite golfing movie?
“Happy Gilmore for sure.”