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Cured of Putting Yips, Gaston Turns Pro at 37

March 29, 1995|STEVE ELLING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHATSWORTH — Andrea Gaston, two-time defending Women's State Amateur golf champion, has decided to turn professional at age 37.

Gaston, who played at Granada Hills High and San Jose State in the 1970s, quit the game for 14 years because of a debilitating case of the putting yips.

She began playing in tournaments in 1992, using a cross-handed putting grip, and quickly started piling up victories.

She was one of the nation's top-ranked amateurs last year. Still, she has been a member of the work force for 15 years and the decision wasn't as easy at it might seem.

"One part of me says, 'What a great opportunity,' " she said. "The next moment you're in tears because this is all unknown territory."

Gaston will play this summer on the Gold Coast Tour, a mini-tour in Florida with divisions for men and women. The tour begins in mid-April.

She will try to earn her LPGA Tour card in the fall at qualifying school.

Gaston is luckier than most. She has a pair of private sponsors to help underwrite expenses and already has lined up equipment and clothing sponsors.

"I've been reflecting on what a long process this has been," said Gaston, who is single and lives in Chatsworth.

"Even in the '70s when golf wasn't always fun, I still loved the sport. I still do."

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