It’s not often that families attend a high school graduation and are immediately presented with a perplexing riddle like the following: How can the nation’s best collegiate golfer be walking across the stage at a high school commencement?
That was the bizarre scene in Long Island on Saturday, where Levittown (N.Y.) MacArthur High graduate and current NCAA women’s golf individual and team national champion Annie Park officially graduated with her former classmates. As one might expect, the attendance of a high profile USC golf star at a high school commencement inspired eligibility questions.
Luckily for Park and Trojans fans everywhere, the teenager didn’t violate any rules to compete for USC before she was eligible to do so. Instead, she finished her high school coursework and graduated from MacArthur early, in December, but couldn’t walk in a traditional commencement ceremony because the school didn’t host one then.
Instead, Park agreed to wait until the school-wide commencement in June and rejoin her classmates. Little did she know that she would do so as a dual national champion.
“The result was very unexpected for myself,” Park told USC sports information website USCTrojans.com immediately after her individual title. “I was just trying to play my best each round and each shot. It turned out to be good and feels great.”
That all became a reality in May, when Park and her teammates rolled to USC’s third consecutive national title, setting a team score record in the process; USC’s final combined score of 1,133 was 15 shots better than the standing record set by UCLA in 2004.
As for Park, her high school commencement was just the latest chapter in a whirlwind semester which could give way to an even more high profile professional future sooner rather than later.
“It’s not the easiest of transitions, but at the same time it’s not a big deal, either,” Park told Golfweek.com. “I want to graduate early from college anyway so I can turn pro.”
You know what that means: Another commencement with a reappearing act from Park, three or four years down the road.