I had a great showing at the Colorado Women's Open early last month. I opened with back-to-back 69s to put myself within two shots of the lead. I shot a final round 73, which, although not stellar, still earned me a T-4th place finish. I loved being in contention and playing in the final group. This was yet another experience to learn from and file away in the memory bank.
I drove south from Denver down to Arizona. This was my first time "home" (for lack of a better word) since April. It was refreshing to spend time practicing at Alta Mesa Country Club again and to catch up with friends. As per usual, the visit was a short one. I boarded a plane to Florida on September 16th and have been roaming around the Sunshine State ever since.
My month in Florida began in Kissimmee at Reunion Resort for the second to last Symetra event of the season. I hit 17 greens in round one, was bogey-free in round two, and made five birdies in round three... and still somehow only shot even par for the week. Yet another example of why golf is a four-letter word, I suppose. This was a very score-able golf course, so shooting even earned me T-59th. However, being on the verge of playing great golf for three days allowed me to leave with a lot of positive feelings.
I then headed east to LPGA International Golf Course in Daytona Beach for the Symetra Tour Championship. This week was special because the pressure on those players inside or near the top ten on the money list was as palpable as the humidity. Although winning would not have been enough for me to get inside the top ten, I was still determined to finish the season on a high note. I got off to a solid start during round one, hitting every fairway and green through the first eight holes. I then three-putted number eight to go one over, and my patience snapped. Those first eight holes were all too typical of my last month: good golf but an ugly scorecard. I couldn’t hold back my frustration any longer. I had a mini meltdown and shot 75. I turned my attitude around before the second round, but just couldn’t get anything going, thus missing the cut for the first time since mid-June. Lucky for me, my parents had come to Florida to watch these final two events. I spent the empty weekend hanging out with them on the beach, celebrating my 24th birthday, and erasing three putts from memory.
Next up on the schedule is Stage II of LPGA Q-school in Venice, FL. I drove to Venice last Wednesday and have had a very focused week of preparation. The tournament starts on Tuesday, and I am feeling refreshed and ready to golf my ball. Every part of my game feels good. My goal this week is acceptance. I will focus only on the shot in front of me, give it my best, then simply accept the results and move on. This will help me to let go of the unattainable idea of “perfection” and just play the game as it comes.
This long week between tournaments has given me ample time to review my first year as a touring pro. Overall, I am pleased with my rookie season. Of course I would have liked to finish higher on the money list (62), to have had more top tens (1), and to have missed less cuts (6). However, I knew from the start this would not be easy. My first year was about learning as much as possible, and in that regard I have been successful. As you all have read in these blogs, I have grown a tremendous amount since January. I feel like I have a good grasp on the basics of tour life: living on the road, preparing for tournaments, playing week in and out, etc. I learned something new each week, ranging from calming nerves to working with a caddy to how much caffeine I can drink before teeing off. My greatest learning experience came from my mid-season slump. I can see now that what I gained in on and off course knowledge during those tough few months will outweigh the money lost in missed cuts in the long run.
Venice is a good place to reflect because I can compare the player I am today to the player I was at this same tournament one year ago. During my practice rounds the last few days, I have noticed several physical differences. Most notably, I hit the ball farther and make solid contact more often. I am better at putting and chipping around the Bermuda grass greens and have improved my course management. Seeing this progress is rewarding.
In between pats on my own back, I have also spent a great deal of time analyzing my weaknesses. I have started to form some off-season goals that I will share with you in the next blog post— try not to let the anticipation kill you. I want to get through this week of Q-School before listing everything wrong with my game.
I can never thank my investors enough for their support. Without them, this year would have been a first and last failed attempt rather than a successful first stepping-stone in my four-year plan. Their investment means the world to me. Thank you.
I will leave you with some Q-School facts to explain the process:
-October 8th -11th in Venice, FL
-4 rounds and no cut
-Top 80 and ties out of 195 players will advance
-Cost is $4,000
-December 4th -8th in Daytona Beach, FL
-5 rounds with a cut after the 4th round to 70 and ties
-Top 20 finishers receive full LPGA status for 2014
-Finishers 21-40 receive conditional/partial LPGA status for 2014
-Cost is $1,500