Paige Spiranac had dreams of a vastly differently sporting career path before becoming golf's leading influencer.
Golf beauty Spiranac, who was named the world's sexiest woman of 2022 by Maxim magazine, has more followers on Instagram (3.7 million) than Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy despite being a pro for just one year.
The 29-year-old has amassed a huge online fanbase who keep up to date with her golf-centric content and glamorous modelling shots.
But in an alternate universe, Spiranac would have instead made her name as a successful pro gymnast, long before her social media stardom in the golfing world.
She had aspirations of competing at the Olympic Games, but suffered a devastating injury and a series of issues forced her to quit gymnastics aged 12 and take up golf.
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"I always wanted to be a professional athlete. It kills me, to this day, that I never made it," Spiranac said on her "Playing A Round" podcast.
"Especially because I was a competitive gymnast growing up and I was competing at a really high level, I wanted to go to the Olympics, but with gymnastics there's an age restriction.
"So you have to be 16 or turning 16 in the year of the Olympics and the first year I would have been eligible was 18 which is past your prime.
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"I also fractured my knee cap twice and just didn't have the right body build. I'm a bit taller but you have to be short and strong and … that's not my body type."
Spiranac also developed an interest in tennis before pursuing a career as a golf pro, and still harbours regrets that she never made it to the top in elite sport.
“It keeps me up at night to be honest because I feel like a failure and it’s really difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that I never made it — not as a gymnast, not as a tennis player, not as a golfer," she admitted.
"It’s been hard. It’s really hard because I felt like I could do it and there was just something that was missing. But instead of sitting down and feeling sorry for myself, I picked myself back up and threw myself into my media work."
Spiranac is certainly reaping the rewards of her social media success after stepping away from competitive golf, and has explained how building her burgeoning business portfolio as an influencer has proved more fulfilling than the unpredictable nature of a career as a pro athlete.
"My background of just grinding, hard work has really helped me in my media career, because I work so incredibly hard," she added. "And the difference is here, the harder I work, the more successful I’ve become and I think that’s why it’s been a more fulfilling journey for me than professional golf… the outcome is positive.”
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