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Column: Nepali golfer Pratima Sherpa one step away from fulfilling dream

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017: Pratima Sherpa has been working hard to become N
Pratima Sherpa has been working hard to become Nepal’s first golf star despite being born in a very poor family and challenging Nepalese cultural norms as a young female golfer.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

To say Pratima Sherpa was born to play golf would be more than just a cliche for the 19-year-old amateur golfer.

She was born and raised at Royal Nepal Golf Club to Pasang Sherpa and Kalpana Tsering, who met while working at Royal Nepal. The golf course was Pratima’s playground from the moment she could walk. Her parents lived in a cinder block shed between the third and fourth holes and her father carved her first golf club from a wooden branch he cut from a tree on the border of the course.

It’s a story that has been chronicled several times over the last two years and seems destined to be a Hollywood movie one day. The next scene of Pratima’s remarkable journey will take place Friday when she plays in the IOA Championship in Beaumont, Calif. It’s the third event of the 2019 Symetra Tour, previously known as the LPGA Futures Tour, and will be the first professional tournament she will play in after getting a sponsor’s exemption.

“I’m excited and nervous,” Pratima said over breakfast in Calabasas before going to practice. “One of my dreams is to play in the LPGA and the dream has come true now.”

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While Kathmandu is Pratima’s hometown, Southern California is her new home as she aims to become Nepal’s first professional female golfer. Pratima’s first time leaving home came in 2017 when she traveled nearly 8,000 miles to Ventura to stay with her host parents, Mike and Tanya Montano, and their daughter, Sophia, who played golf at Pomona Pitzer. Tanya stumbled upon Pratima’s GoFundMe page two years ago and instantly felt a connection to Pratima, who like her daughter was an only child who loved playing golf. She immediately began working on getting Pratima to the U.S. so she could follow her dreams of being a professional golfer.

“She has grown so much over the last two years,” Tanya said. “She is in great place to have success this weekend. Not in terms of winning the tournament but having a great experience and learning from the experience.”

Pratima enrolled at Santa Barbara Community College in January and plays on the women’s golf team. The plan is to transfer to a four-year university in two years and then turn pro. She plans to return home to Nepal every summer and keeps in touch with her parents on a daily basis through FaceTime and Facebook. She continues to be amazed at the number of people who are following her journey at home and around the world.

“I feel so happy that people know me and know my story,” Pratima said. “But I also feel pressure. Around the world, people are watching me and I have to do my best. So there’s definitely pressure on me but it’s good pressure.”

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Can we please stop using Lakers’ fans reaction to LeBron James passing Michael Jordan for fourth on the all-time scoring list as an indication of how poorly he has been received here? I’ve been hearing that more and more as the Lakers put the finishing touches on this disappointing season. I’m not saying he will go down as one of the most beloved Lakers but as James drove to the basket for a layup to pass Jordan, the below .500 and out of the playoffs Lakers were down 55-37 to the Denver Nuggets midway through the second quarter. There is absolutely no part of that sentence that would make me want to get out of my seat and cheer. Context matters. You don’t think that if James had hit a shot to give the Lakers the lead that people would have been more excited? That play, in that moment got the reaction it deserved.

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The Dodgers will honor Don Newcombe, who passed away Feb. 19, before opening day on Thursday and will wear a memorial uniform patch this season with “Newk” above his number 36. It’s a beautiful gesture but I wish the team would finally retire his number. The Dodgers can’t do anything about Newcombe not being in the Hall of Fame. I’ll never understand voters’ inability to factor in segregation and Newcombe serving his country for two of his prime years during the Korean War when judging his candidacy. But the team can and should do the right thing and retire his number and make him only the second Dodgers player after Jim Gilliam to get his number retired despite not being in the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor Newcombe more than earned during a career in which he became the first pitcher to win rookie-of-the-year, MVP and Cy Young awards. Not to mention spending the last 40 years of his life working for the Dodgers and helping youth baseball programs in Los Angeles.

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While the majority owner of the Alliance of American Football, Tom Dundon, is considering shutting down the league after only one season, the XFL is gearing up for its return next season. Los Angeles’ XFL team will call Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly StubHub Center) its home beginning next February and plans to announce the team’s name and coach later this year. During the XFL’s first and only season in 2001, the Los Angeles Xtreme won the championship, defeating the San Francisco Demons in “The Million Dollar Game” played at the Coliseum. J.K. McKay, who was the general manager of that team, still has the gaudy steel trophy at his Pacific Palisades home. But will the new L.A. team take on the old team’s name and recognize its championship history? XFL President and COO Jeffrey Pollack is still undecided. “The fans will tell us and we’ll listen to them,” Pollack said. “If our fans in L.A. say that’s important we’ll listen but the plan right now is to come out with something totally fresh.”


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