The Amazing Race > The Racers

TAR 20: Misa and Maiya Tanaka *Sisters*

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Hate to bump an old thread but I just watched Maiya on Big Break Sandals Resorts. To watch her crack under pressure time and time again was a sore reminder of this mistake. Looks like she's raising money to go to the LPGA's Q-School come September. Just wanted to wish her the best of luck and hoping that these little mistakes are no indication of her future.

Good Luck Maiya!!

Maiya Tanaka fought every step of way to Canadian Open

  By Terry Bell, The Province August 22, 2012   

 Maiya Tanaka qualified for the CN Canadian Women’s Open after finishing in the top four at Morgan Creek golf course on August 20, 2012.

For golfer Maiya Tanaka, the plan was to go on the CBS reality show The Amazing Race 20 in February with her sister Misa, win the $1 million US first prize and use the cash to launch her career on the LPGA Tour.

But a wrong turn somewhere in Argentina scuttled that idea.

The San Diego sisters were the first team punted from the race, which sees two-person teams globetrotting from country to country.

This week, Tanaka — who is making her LPGA Tour debut after earning one of four tournament spots at the Monday qualifier with a two-under par 70 at Morgan Creek — is hoping to keep a straight course and do some amazing things at the CN Canadian Women’s Open at the Vancouver Golf Club.

Tanaka, 25, has had to do her share of scrambling just to get here.

“I am a fighter, definitely,” she said Wednesday before hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range.

“I’ve had this goal to get to the LPGA and I’ve had a few things that I’ve had to overcome, but I do feel like I’m in a really good place now.”

Tanaka didn’t grow up rich. She was one of four children raised by a single mom. She started golf at age 11 in the First Tee Program, an academy that brings the sport to under-privileged kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play.

In high school she and her sister started a girls team after Maiya had played on the boys team all year only to be ruled ineligible to play in the state tournament.

Tanaka went on to play golf for UCLA, but not until her junior year. She didn’t get an athletic scholarship, but got into the school on her academic record and eventually made the team as a walk-on.

She graduated in 2009 and tried to turn pro, living out of her car while she played four small California-based tours. Pleas for sponsorships pretty much fell on deaf ears.

In 2010 she was a player on Big Break Sandals, the reality show that aired on the Golf Channel. In the show, 11 women competed for tournament exemptions, but that too failed to ignite her career.

“I originally did the Big Break Sandals thinking that would help me get on Tour,” Tanaka said.

“After that I was considering quitting golf just because I didn’t have the funds. I ended up working last year and I had seven jobs. I bartended, I babysat, house-sat, dog-sat ... whatever I could do. I moved back in with my mom, and that’s where I am right now. It’s pretty difficult.”

Maiya and her sister enjoyed The Amazing Race even though they got to within metres of the first pit stop only to head off in the wrong direction and get passed.

“My sister and I loved the show,” she said. “The plan was to win the million dollars and sponsor myself. It didn’t go as planned.

“But a lot of people auditioned, and we just felt really blessed to get to the point where we were actually selected. They saw something in us, so it always gives you a little hope whenever you do accomplish a goal and the goal was to get on the show and experience travelling the world together.

“We got to do that and out of it my sister and I got a lot closer.”

Tanaka isn’t upset about her struggle. Far from it.

“I think it being a struggle, it just makes it more worth it,” she said.

“When you have to fight for something, when everything is working against you, you have to be the person who decides, ‘OK, this is what I want to do.’

“I’ve always made it a goal of mine and I didn’t want to give up on that goal. So it being a struggle makes me want it that much more than if had been handed to me.”

Tanaka will be an underdog this week in a field that includes 48 of the top 50 money earners on the 2012 LPGA Tour. She’s struggled on the Symetra Tour this season, but is an alternate for next month’s Q School in Florida.

“I’m hoping,” she said when asked about getting to Florida.

“What happened is I didn’t have the money [$3,000] for Q school when they released the application [forms]. I sent in my application and it turns out they do it on the order in which they received it, so I’m on the alternate list.”

She’ll have Calgary’s Brent Jespersen as her caddy. It’s the first time he’s caddied, the pair getting together because Jespersen’s father and her coach are friends.

A decent showing at the Canadian Open would help her chances of getting to Florida.

And winning a spot on Monday was a confidence boost.

“I think just getting into this event is the deciding factor that’s really going to help me to keep going and know that I do have what it takes,” she said.

“It’s really [about] proving it to myself because I’m the only one who has been telling myself that I can do this. I’ve been going at this solo so it’s nice to see some progress.

“So far it’s more of a make it year than a break it year. I’m looking forward to it.”

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