Megan Furtney stared down the 36th hole at the Elgin Country Club.
She had only one thing on her mind – qualifying for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.
On May 6, the St. Charles North senior finished in the top two of 78 female golfers to advance to the preliminary rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open, which will take place May 30 and 31 at Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. The championship rounds will follow on June 1 and 2.
“It just felt so surreal,” said Furtney of qualifying for what she said was a lifelong dream. “I still can’t begin to find words to describe just how absolutely amazing it is.”
While the early May weather was not cooperating, Furtney made the most of what she was given.
“I had actually had a really rough finish,” said Furtney of the final few holes of the first 18. “Because it was raining… all the scores were actually pretty high. So when I had gone in I was actually in the lead, so that was a bit of a shock to me at first.”
After completing her 36th hole, Furtney could do nothing but wait as the remaining golfers finished the course.
“That was the longest hour and a half of my life,” Furtney said, “just to sit there and wait, and once she [the golfer closest to Furtney’s score] came in and I saw her score wasn’t gonna be low enough to qualify… that was definitely worth the longest hour and a half of my life.”
Just five days prior to the qualifiers, Furtney, along with fellow Duke commit Erica Shepard, finished first in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball tournament April 27 through May 1.
With all that Furtney has accomplished, she has faced her share of adversity in recent years. In May of 2017, Furtney suffered a gruesome injury to her pinkie. Two surgeries followed, and she missed the rest of the summer.
“We didn’t know what was ahead,” said Megan’s mother, Stacey Furtney. “We didn’t know if she would play at the same level.”
Furtney returned in September 2017, and took eighth in the state. This past fall, she was part of St. Charles North athletic history. Furtney and the North Stars won the Class 2A state title, the first athletic team in the school’s history to win a state championship.
She followed that by winning a major amateur tournament with her future teammate at Duke, and earning an opportunity that most have only dreamed of.
“It’s everything she’s deserved,” Stacey Furtney said. “She’s been through a lot.”
While Furtney is on to a bright future in professional golf, the impact she will leave at St. Charles North will never fade.
"Megan is someone that makes everyone better at whatever they're doing," said Furtney's former teammate and North senior Emma Hayes. "You can just tell she has something special. The way she hits the ball, the way she talks about golf, the way she practices. It's been awesome playing with her the past four years."
While Furtney has been someone to look to on her own team, she has always had her own idols. She is now competing against one of them.
"Growing up, people would always ask me who my favorite golfer was, and I would always say it was Paula Creamer," Furtney said. "So I get to play with my own childhood idol. I'm going to try not to be too starstruck, and just focus on the task at hand. But it's going to be so cool and I absolutely cannot wait."
On the tournament itself, Furtney knows not to let the pressure of the elevated stage get to her head, but to instead focus on her game and enjoy the moment.
“I’m just going to go out and just to take it one shot at a time,” she said. “I’m not going try to think too far ahead of myself about making the cut, I’m just going to go out and really soak it all in. Being able to compete on a stage like that is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”