I left off in Albany, NY. I returned to a wonderful host family, John and Karen Heath, who took me to the Saratoga horse track before the tournament started. I had a great time seeing the sights of Saratoga and walking around the historic track, which is the oldest in the United States. Unfortunately, I used up all my luck at the track. I hit a boxed trifecta on Thursday, but also had some boxes on my scorecard the next day… oops. I actually played lots of good golf, shooting rounds of 70-71-68, but the course was score-able so (-4) total only earned me T-27th place.
My next two weeks of play in Syracuse and Manchester were similar to one another. After Manchester, I inspired my friend Jody Olson to ask if I was familiar with the Johnny Cash classic, "I Walk the Line." I snuck inside the cut line in the 11th hour to earn my Sunday tee time in both events. I just wasn't firing on all cylinders— my swing was a bit off, the course didn't suit my eye, and a couple big misses here and there cost me. It wasn't always pretty, but I am proud of the way I gave my absolute all down to the last shot every day. During the first round in Manchester, for example, I had a double and a triple but also made six birdies (including three of the last four holes) to salvage a 74. The excitement was slim and the paychecks meager, but every competitive round I have an opportunity to play is worth its weight in gold. I’m always grateful for a chance to learn something on Sunday!
Things began to look up in Richmond, VA. I love Richmond Country Club’s traditional layout and its smooth, fast greens. I was really struggling with my swing and spent twice as much time as usual on the range trying to work things out during the pro-am and practice round days. After sending a video to my coaches Thursday afternoon, I got the tip I needed and came up with a small key to take into Friday’s round. I ended up hitting the ball great, shooting opening rounds of 69-71. As my caddy Wayne likes to remind me, “You’re too good to keep hitting the ball bad for long. Believe in yourself and relax because it will always come back.” This can be hard to remember when caught up in a moment of frustration, but he is right. I tend to think that because I hit the ball bad one day, I’m going to hit the ball bad every day. Staying confident and working calmly towards a solution usually pans out a lot better than pushing the panic button.
I went into Sunday’s round in T-9th place, only four shots back of the leader. I felt great when I teed off and made a kick-in birdie on my third hole. Then I let my mind wander far away from the process on the fifth and sixth holes, and the lack of concentration caused my only two 3-putts of the tournament. I bounced back with more kick-in birdies on the eighth and ninth holes, but then made a mess chipping around the twelfth hole for a bogey. Again, I kept my confidence up and birdied the next, but when I bogeyed eighteen I had run out of time to make a comeback. 73 put me in T-24th place. If I had only stayed in the present better and eliminated the 3-putts and extra chip, I would have finished in 5th… and if woulda, coulda, shouldas got me anywhere, I would have my LPGA card and a US Open trophy by now. Staying focused for every shot over the course of a four to five hour round is difficult to do, but learning experiences like that final round are the best place to practice it and get better.
I expected a good week to come soon because I had made an attitude shift in the past few tournaments that I could feel changing my game. I decided in the prior weeks that I was tired of wasting energy and ruining the fun of the game with my own self-berating. My new goal was to talk to myself the same way I talk to my pro-am partners. When John Smith misses a green in the scramble, I don’t yell, “You are such an idiot! How could you miss it there?!” Instead, I usually say (to the 18 handicapper who hits nothing but duck hooks), “That’s alright John. I’m sure it’ll come back soon.” I also would never put up with a caddy or spectator who said, “Did you seriously just 3-putt again? Are you blind or just stupid?” and then let them whack my golf bag as they walked off the green. So why do that to myself? I decided to make a conscious effort to become my own biggest fan instead of my own worst critic. I know I am not the only one who needs to learn this lesson- almost every amateur I’ve met jumps to explain how terrible they are then runs me through their gamut of misses. It takes practice, but switching over to self-cheerleader is a lot more fun and rewarding. I recommend everyone out there gives it a try!
We have two “bye weeks” between Richmond and Mayetta, Kansas (side note: “off weeks” turn into “bye weeks” in mid-August. Go Big Red!). I spent the better part of this week taking the long way from Richmond to Boise. I am now in Portland, OR to play in the Monday qualifier for the LPGA Safeway Classic at Columbia Edgewater CC. I will hopefully earn one of the two qualifying spots tomorrow and be here for the rest of the week. Otherwise, I will fly to Denver and play in the Colorado Women’s Open from Weds-Fri. Regardless, I have a fun week of tournament golf ahead.
The Symetra Tour picks back up again the week of September 1st in Kansas. I will skip the next Symetra event to be a part of my sister’s wedding in Seattle. I then fly to Daytona Beach for the Tour Championship the week of September 15th. So, two events left to play my way into the top ten. As my own biggest fan, I believe more than anyone that I can do it!
Thank you all for your phone calls, emails, hugs, places to stay, dinners out… it really does take a village. Thank you for making my journey so much fun.