Stevens: Britney Choy Hopes Her Best Lobo Memory Is Yet To Come
May 5, 2010
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobo.com
The tease from Britney's Choy's teammate and friend, Jodi Ewart, is that Choy is, well, kind of a Lobo klutz -- a walking disaster, an accident waiting to happen, a leg looking for a bruise.
"She can fall over just walking," said Ewart. "Mostly, she seems to fall over her own feet. Britney, tell us what happens when you fall over."
Choy greets the request with a smile and a quick tour of her scarred and battered legs. The New Mexico senior from Wahiawa, Hawaii does not dispute her ability to self-injure. She points out an assortment of nicks and bruises, and tags on a variety of reasons for the hurt.
Based on the history of Choy's wounds, it seems she should avoid water boards, skateboards and exercise rooms.
One of the latest, and longest, additions to the Choy "Legs Of Pain" is a gash on her shin, compliments of a foot slipping off a pedal in the UNM strength and conditioning room.
"I think she bled for about a week," said Ewart. "She's my best friend. I think we'll end up in wheelchairs together in some retirement home."
Well, maybe Choy shouldn't be in anything with wheels. Choy says another one of her falls came during a high-kicking drill. One foot went high. The other foot slipped. Down went Choy.
Of course, the Lobos didn't recruit Choy because of her ability to kick high or stay upright on a board. They did recruit her to walk a golf course and shoot some good numbers. Choy usually does that well. She isn't always spectacular, but she usually is consistent.
She turned in the third-best score for UNM when the Lobos won their third straight Mountain West Conference title in April. The Lobos are back in the NCAA postseason for the 18th straight time. At the 2009 NCAA finals, Choy was the top Lobo finisher.
She says she hopes her best memory as a Lobo is still to come in the 2010 NCAA battles, but one of her top moments as a Lobo came in 2008. It seems almost fitting that an injury played a part in forging that memory.
In 2007, Choy was in serious pain. This time in was in her back. She had been going through a long grind of lower back pain and nerve shooters down her leg. She did the physical therapy thing for a couple of years, but the pain hung around like an unwanted hook off the tee box.
It got really bad on a 12-hour flight from Honolulu to an amateur tournament in Kentucky and 12 hours back again to Hawaii. "When I got back home, I could hardly walk," she said. "I finally insisted that there was something wrong and they took an MRI."
About a week later, Choy was walking out of the hospital on a muggy July day after surgery to repair some damaged disks in her spine. Choy had to make a decision. Give up golf for a season -- or not.
"People were telling me to redshirt and not waste a season coming off an injury," she said. "But I really wanted to play and conference was at our course and I felt the team needed me. So, I played golf every day over Christmas break and I felt pretty good."
Choy did not compete in UNM's fall season of 2007, but was ready for spring of 2008 and the Mountain West Championship at the UNM Championship Course. She tied for fourth at the MWC tourney to earn All-MWC honors. She fired a 2-under 71 in the second round. She was the league's golfer of the month in April.
"I guess that was special because conference was at our course, I was coming off back surgery and we won," she said.
Choy's 2008 spring semester was her best stretch of golf as a Lobo. She finished with a 75.4 average. She is at 75.6, so far, this spring semester. She has been a steady Lobo for three seasons, but didn't have New Mexico in her sights when she decided to "get off the rock."
"I told my dad when I was around 10 that I wanted to get off the rock (Hawaii) and play on the mainland," said Choy. "I wanted my college experience to be somewhat different than my amateur experience in Hawaii. I had a list of schools I wanted to go to and New Mexico wasn't on it, simply because I had never really heard about it.
"When I came here on my recruiting visit, I didn't see paradise. But I liked what I saw and I realized coming here would make me a better golfer. The facility (UNM's course) is amazing."
Choy's childhood definitely paints a picture of a Hawaiian lifestyle. She grew up about a mile from the Dole pineapple plantation on Dole Road. "The tourists have to go through my town to get to the North Shore or the plantation," said Choy. "It's a small town. There is no Starbucks, no Wal-Mart. Don't blink or you'll miss it."
Of course, there are a few beaches near by and Choy quickly learned to follow dad to the water. Dad also played golf and Choy became hooked and even played junior golf with another promising young golfer named Michelle Wie. "I was taller than her for about two years," said the 5-foot-7 Choy. "She was a town girl. I was a country girl."
Wie went to the LPGA and Stanford. Choy went to UNM, but is hoping the LPGA is in her future. Choy likes her game -- especially from the neck down.
"The problem is my head," she said. "There are too many times my head comes into play. I try not to let it, but it's still a problem. If I knew the reason, I would have fixed it by now. I just have too many things going on in my head sometimes on the course."
Choy plans to finish her degree in the fall semester while working in some golf time on the Futures Tour. "I guess I'm a little nervous about it, but I'm also excited about it," she said.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.