Sandra Gal: “America finally officially home”

On Thursday, May 20, Sandra Gal raised her right hand and swore the oath of citizenship to become an American.  

Sandra Gal, statements

“For me, it was a natural, evolutionary process. I played in college here [at the University of Florida] and when you come over from Europe, you get a visa. Then you can apply for a green card, which I did. After you’ve had your green card for five years, you are allowed to apply for citizenship. I did that a couple of years ago. It has been a bit of a slow process. But now, here I am. It has been 16 years that I’ve been here [in the United States] and it has felt like a second home for some time. And now, to be able to call it my home officially is great. The green card [given to legal foreign residents] is pretty restrictive in terms of how much time you can spend in the U.S. and how much you can spend abroad, which was difficult to manage given Tour life and how much we travel. Being a citizen is definitely easier for me in terms of deciding where I want to live and how much time I want to spend here. I think in the beginning, America was the only country where I could get an education and continue to play golf at the same time,” Gal said. “I wasn’t sure, at the time, if I wanted to turn pro, so it made sense [to come here]. I only spent two weeks here prior to going to college [in Florida]. It was a dream, obviously. You start writing to coaches and applying to colleges early in high school. So, before I set foot here, it all seemed exciting and far away”.

Rory McIlroy talks after arrival in County Kilkenny yesterday.

“The last time I was on the 18th green here was that prize-giving ceremony. Tiger Woods won and I somehow sneaked my way under the ropes on to the back of the green. I was standing right behind him and his glove was still in his back pocket. I could have reached out and got it and ran, that would have been a good story to tell. Obviously I didn’t. It was the first time I’d seen him play live. I still remember the first shot I saw him hit, the drive at the 5th, a par five. He hit 2-iron into the green. It was so cool. I’d idolised him growing up and to actually see the man in the flesh was pretty exciting.”

“I’d made a bit of a name for myself as an amateur by then and knew Chubby (Chandler) and Darren (Clarke) so I was in the clubhouse and got to chat to Ernie when he won. It’s amazing to think it’s been 17 year. Certainly a lot’s changed for me since the last time I was here. I might as well play the Scottish as well. My original plan up until last week was us to come as a family, play here, take a week off, which is now the Scottish Open, and play the Open. With me being a sports person the restrictions are not as heavy for me as they would be for Erica and Poppy. I felt it wasn’t fair to put them through what they’d have to go through to be here with me. The plans changed very quickly and we made the decision I travel on my own. I wasn’t going to go back to the States for a week inbetween the Irish and the Open, so if I’m here I might as well play the Scottish as well. It went very quickly from them coming, to not coming and then me playing three events in a row! If anything, it’s probably worked out for the best. It’ll be nice to get a tournament on a links course before going into Sandwich. I didn’t play for a week because I was spending time with the family before being away. So I can now get to work here and in Scotland”.

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