I left off before the final stage of Q-School, and as most of you probably already know, I was unsuccessful there in my bid to earn an LPGA Tour Card. Despite this disappointment, 2015 was still a successful year in many ways. I was thrilled to earn my first Symetra Tour win and to skip to the final stage of Q-School. I achieved the goal I set last winter to get stronger, gaining both distance off the tee and day-to-day consistency in my swing. I improved across nearly every statistical category. So, despite falling short of the LPGA, I still made considerable progress forward.
I’ve been continuing that progress forward with much of the same training plan as the last few years. I spent the winter in Arizona practicing and playing on a daily basis. I have continued to work with my coach Michael Pinkey, strength train, and play competitively as much as possible.
I am always striving for more solid strikes and holed putts, but I don’t believe that is where my weakness lies. As I made my way through last season, I had all the physical capabilities. I just didn’t put it all together when I needed to most. To close the gap this year, my focus is on my mental game. Instead of looking back and saying mental mistakes or lack of confidence cost me shots, I want to be able to say that my mental strength and confidence earned me shots.
To make sure this happens, I have been implementing mental routines that I find comparable to the physical warm-up I learned at Exos. Just like the way I work through a basic “movement-prep” routine every day to keep my body feeling a certain way, I have been staying disciplined in a mental-prep routine as well. I use meditation and journaling on a regular basis to keep my mind calm and emotions in check, and I visualize tournament rounds before I play them. I have also continued to hone my pre-shot routine, making sure I am fully committed to my shot choice and have a clear visual before pulling the trigger.
The final step in turning good mechanics and confidence into great scoring is to work on accuracy from 120 yards and in. I’ve struggled recently to turn that 73 or 74 into a 68 or 69 because although my strikes are solid, my shot choices are off. There is a big difference in scoring over time when averaging ten feet from the hole and never missing a green with wedges versus averaging twenty feet and sometimes having to chip. This is not new information to me by any means, but I have let my focus on it slip this winter. My practice time while at tournament sites this season will be geared towards sharpening distance control and determining how the ball is reacting at different courses.
My results so far in 2016 have been spotty at best. I have played four Cactus Tour events around Phoenix, finishing 10th, 2nd, 4th, and 10th. I cashed checks in each one but am disappointed to not have earned a win. I also played LPGA Monday Qualifiers in Phoenix and San Diego (where as many as 84 women competed for two spots), but did not go low either time. The Symetra Tour has had just one event thus far in Beaumont, CA, and I missed the cut there by one measly shot. As I explained above, I believe these lackluster results can be cleaned up with better distance control from inside 120 yards. This is a lot easier to fix than a swing flaw, so I am positive that with the right work, the lower scores aren’t far away. As always... patience, young grasshopper.
I am ecstatic that the road to the LPGA actually hits the road this week. The grass has been growing under my feet after spending almost five entire months in one place. Get that browser ready to refresh some leaderboards, because we start with three consecutive events in Florida (Lake Wales, Fort Myers, Sarasota), have a week off, then play four more straight (Greenwood, Charlotte, Atlanta, Boston). I am so ready to get back into competing every weekend, revisiting old host families, and playing with tour friends. Bring on the wrinkled suitcases, delayed flights, and jet lag- it's the gypsy life for me!
A few more things of note:
-I recently traded my Ping S55 irons and Ping Glide wedges in for PXG irons and wedges. I love the change so far- the PXGs make good shots feel like pure butter, and the fresh wedges were much needed. The transition has been an easy one because the PXGs have a very similar look to the Pings. An adjustment to my lie angles and moving from regular to stiff Aerotech shafts has also been hugely beneficial. I have the same Ping G30 driver and hybrids, but went from regular to stiff shafts there, too, because I am a muscular beast. ;) The ol’ faithful Odyssey Versa putter is staying put.
-This season I will be flying and renting cars instead of driving my own car around the country. The geographic flow of the schedule simply made driving too difficult this year.
-I have hired a new caddy for the upcoming Florida swing. He is a long time tour caddy and has been working most recently on the Ladies European Tour. I'm looking forward to working with one person on a regular basis again.
I’m so grateful to everyone who has made this year of opportunities ahead of me possible. THANK YOU for all of the support and encouragement. I promise I will be giving it my all to make you proud.
Here’s to our best year yet!