Chasing my dreams one shot at a time
Happy New Year!
Most of you probably know by now the story of my close call at Q-School in December. After 90 holes of golf, I fell just one shot shy of earning a full LPGA Tour card- for the second year in a row. Bret Lasky from LPGATour.com wrote a nice detailed look at the ups and downs of my week here: http://www.lpga.com/news/sheils-overcomes-heartbreak.
Everybody’s first question upon hearing Q-School results is, “So... what does that mean?” I am better prepared to answer that question now that I am no longer a bewildered rookie 😃. Below is a look at the 2018 LPGA schedule. By my best estimates, events highlighted in pink are weeks I will probably play. Events highlighted in blue mean I have a 50/50 chance of playing. All other events without color from the ANA Inspiration forward are possible for me to play if I work my way up the money list.
With Q-School behind me and a fresh year ahead, I have been thrilled to throw myself back into the process of getting better each day. This looks like meditation in the morning; strength/mobility/stability work in the gym; and hours of practice both on and off the course at Alta Mesa GC. I look back often on the notes I made at the end of last season as a guide to where I should sped my practice time. Semi-frequent lessons with swing coach Gabe Hjertstedt and putting coach Todd Kolb keep me moving in the right direction.
I got my first taste of 2018 competition on the Cactus Tour last week. My results (74-73-72, 9th/39) showed the rust that a relaxed December were bound to bring. However, as always, the tournament experience was a valuable teacher. I then flew down to Nassau, Bahamas to try my hand at Monday qualifying into the LPGA season opener. I shot a sharp, bogey-free five under but finished third on a day when only the top two players out of thirty earned a place in the event. Such is the nature of the beast.
I had an incredible time in the Bahamas thanks to the help of a few very kind people. After meeting briefly at the same qualifier in 2017, Paradise Island local Garth Groat didn’t hesitate this year to help find me private housing with another club member, Ray Brown. Ray welcomed my travel buddy Samantha Troyanovich and me into his condo for our stay on Paradise Island, greatly reducing the cost (and therefore stress!) of an otherwise pricey gamble in a Monday qualifier. Garth even stepped in to carry my bag for nine holes of my practice round when flight troubles delayed my scheduled caddie. The generosity of individuals like Garth and Ray never cease to amaze me as I travel the world.
I came across a quote that I have been pondering for the better part of this month. It reads,
“Today, give yourself the most simple and doable of tasks: Just don’t make stuff worse. Whatever happens, don’t add angry or negative emotions to the equation. Don’t react for the sake of reacting. Leave it as it is. Stop digging. Then plan your way out.”
You have probably heard me talk before about controlling my reactions to outcomes rather than letting the outcomes control me, but I really like the simplicity of the task given here. Just don’t make stuff worse. After hitting a bad shot- just don’t make it worse! After coming up a shot shy of a goal- just don’t make it worse! That isn’t so hard to do, right? 😃 The faster I accept the moment as is, the faster I can get on my way to something better. I will keep this in my back pocket as a long term goal for 2018.
The month of February has the LPGA overseas and the Symetra Tour with an empty schedule, so I will be gathering more tournament experience on the local Cactus Tour and enjoying time home in Arizona. You can keep up with my schedule on the “Follow” page of my website.
Much love to all!
It is about time I posted a 2017 review!
I am happy with my LPGA rookie campaign for three reasons: I had a blast, I learned a ton, and I improved.
This season was full of highs and lows, but overall it was a lot of fun. I stayed with a dozen wonderful host families, made new friends, and travelled to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. There were immaculate golf courses, cool new cities, and real, live galleries with actual human beings at events. I think what I found most fun, though, was being surrounded every week by 143 of the world’s most talented, hard working, and passionate women. Having the opportunity to play the game at its very top level is such an amazing, exciting honor.
Figuring things out
I learned a great deal about what it takes to for me to succeed. I learned the importance of dialing in my distance control, practice strategies for improving putting consistency, mental strategies for improving chipping, the need to have clarity and ownership around my golf swing week in and week out, and the importance of keeping detailed statistics. I also simply learned over time how to be comfortable and trust my game on the bigger stage.
This long stretch between my return from New Zealand and Q-School has allowed me the time necessary to focus on how I can improve. I’ve been structuring my off-season practice around what I learned and improving the statistically weak areas of my game. For a few examples: I’m doing a consistent set of fundamental putting drills and checking in with my coach more often to stay out ahead of my negative tendencies on the greens. I’ve worked to better understand the tendencies in my swing, what causes certain ball fights, and how to straighten things out quicker. I have also dedicated far more time to distance wedge practices because I know this is my key scoring area.
On the way up
The thing I am most proud of from this season is my improvement over time. Those of you who followed closely know this was evident in my scores. I played in a total of thirteen events; my scoring average in the first seven was 73.8 and 71.3 in the last six.
I love the Japanese proverb, “Fall seven, rise eight.” I didn’t let early failures beat and keep me down. I learned from them, got up, and was better for it in the long run.
Back to (Q) School
I finished my LPGA rookie season at 144 on the money list. By finishing in the top 150, I did guarantee myself some LPGA status for next year. This is important because it gives me the ability to reshuffle up on the priority list if I do get into an event and make money. However, it is likely only good enough to guarantee a start in one or two events, so I will be returning to Daytona Beach for the final stage of Q-School Nov 29-Dec 3 in attempt to earn full playing privileges for 2018.
To stay sharp for final stage, I have played a few small events. I shot 73-68 to finish T-5th in the California Women’s State Open and 71-71-71 to finish T-3rd in the Arizona Women’s Open.
I must say that I am more excited than ever to have the opportunity of Q-School ahead. I am confident in not just my ability to get back on the LPGA, but to succeed there once I do. I am really looking forward to competing!
One last thing: I'd like to give a major thank you to my sponsors Crucial by Micron, Snake River Farms, and TR Toppers for their support this year. From Ottawa to Auckland, they made my journeys across the globe possible. I am proud to represent them near and far!
Wishing everybody a Happy Thanksgiving filled with love and gratitude!
As usual, another action packed summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I played 14 tournaments in the last 18 weeks. This is always the most exciting time of my year, and I love the urgency that comes along with it. This cramped time of tournament play is, after all, what I spend the whole year training for.
I left off during my last off week, with three LPGA tournaments ahead: CP Women’s Canadian Open, Cambia Portland Classic, and Indy Women in Tech.
My priority status was not good enough for a place in the Canadian Open, so I ventured up to Canada early to give myself two chances to play my way into the field. This was the biggest non-major LPGA event of the year, and with my number of remaining starts running low, I desperately wanted to play. I didn’t get the job done in a small two day PGA of Canada tourney in Toronto, but I then fired a 69 to get through the Monday qualifier in Ottawa! After many unsuccessful Monday qualifier attempts over the past couple years, and especially after not getting a practice round due to a cancelled flight, getting through in Ottawa was a moment to be savored.
The Canadian Open might have been my favorite event of the year. This is Canada’s national championship, and it had that high caliber feeling. The Ottawa Hunt Club was a fun, challenging test, the pro-am party was extravagant, crowds were big, and we received Lululemon clothes as a player gift! Even as a member of the LPGA Tour, I’m not ashamed to admit I haven’t outgrown the thrill of a great tee prize.
My quality of play stayed steady but I didn’t get much out of my rounds during the tournament. I shot 73-72 and missed the cut by one shot- always a cruel feeling in golf.
We then journeyed a tidy little 2,900 miles to Portland, OR. The Cambia Portland Classic is another fun event. Columbia Edgewater is a pure golf course in my favorite part of the country, I had the support of local friends and family out watching, and my belly was oh so happy thanks to that famous Portland food scene. Sadly, I could not have hit the ocean if I was standing on Cannon Beach. I got some sort of weird swing idea in my head starting Tuesday and didn’t hit a solid shot for four days. I lost confidence early and let my emotions get the best of me, something I am always striving to improve.
I caught a flight out of Portland Saturday night and was on the range Sunday afternoon in Scottsdale with my swing coach, Gabe Hjertstedt. We re-tuned and worked on a swing feel I could trust. On Monday, off I flew to Indianapolis.
I had the help of another coach when I got to Indy- Todd Kolb, who has assisted with my putting over the last year. We got in some solid putting practice and talked through a game plan together on Wednesday afternoon as I still felt uneasy about my game. I resolved to be specific about my shot choices, pick one clear focus on every shot, and then give up control of results. And wouldn’t you know, I shot 67 on Thursday! I followed that up with 72-72 for T-42 finish. I certainly would have liked to go lower, but all in all the week was a step forward.
I wrote this blog while heading down under- "Kia ora" from New Zealand! I am so excited to be playing the McKayson Women’s Open in Auckland Sep 28-Oct 1. This will be my thirteenth and final LPGA event of the season, and what a place to finish with a bang! The flight may have been long, but hey, so is this blog. I’ll also be taking five days to travel (sans clubs) once the tourney ends. Check my social medias for pictures and posts to come.
I didn’t get pictures with my host families over the course of the last month, but I’d like to give a major thank you to the Parker, Trickey, Atkinson, McCleary, and Lacey families for their hospitality. Their generosity is what makes my travel a joy instead of a burden. Thank you all!
An inside look at my journey in professional golf
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