Paola Moreno (Cali, Colombia), a three-time Symetra Tour winner, and her husband, Luis, sat in their Colombia home in January and decided to book a vacation to London. Moreno has played in the Ricoh Women’s British Open before, but she has never truly explored London. So, they booked flights for October 5, which is the first-round of the Symetra Tour Championship.
Moreno is not necessarily ready to retire, but she made a decision at the start of the season that she was going to do things on her own terms. She came up with an unusual schedule where she would only play events with high purses and courses that suit her eye.
“I knew this could be my last year so I decided to pace myself differently because I wanted to enjoy the ride,” said Moreno. “It used to be I have to go play tournaments and now it is I want to go. I realized that I don’t have to do anything and I only go play tournaments I want to.”
She played the season opener in Florida and then skipped the entire West Coast Swing (three events). Then, she played events in Florida and Georgia and finished in the top 15 in both. In mid-May, she played in the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic and finished second. She moved into the top 10, but was in rush to change her vacation plans or increase the workload of her schedule.
“I decided to just pace myself because I wanted to play the four Olympic cycle events in Colombia,” explained Moreno, while she was practicing for the Garden City Charity Classic. “It has worked out better than I thought, honestly. Economically, I was only going to play events over $100,000. The only one ($100,000 purse) I’ve played this year was the one I won last year (Tullymore Classic).”
It wasn’t until this last week when she finished in a tie for fifth at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge to move up to 12th on the money list that she decided to change the vacation plans.
She called the airline and was pleasantly surprised to find out that she could switch her flight to London to the following week for free. Instead of leaving October 5, they are leaving October 12 and Moreno will play in Daytona. Turns out it was sort of fate that she got a free change because they had to randomly cancel her flight and had to rebook her.
Moreno has only played in ten events this year. For comparison, nine of the top ten players have played in at least 15 tournaments. Being fresh has helped tremendously as she has finished in the top 20 in seven of ten starts.
“At this point, I have to go play Daytona and try to get my LPGA card back,” said Moreno, who played on the LPGA for six years. “It would be stupid for me not to go. Luis told me that I have to give myself a fair chance to earn my card and he’s right.”
Moreno will decide if she will continue to play based on if she earns her LPGA Tour card or not. Regardless, she’s at peace.
“It’s exciting to be honest because every option is good for me,” explained Moreno. “If I keep playing, then that is great because it would be great to go back to the LPGA, but I have options.”
One of the options is going back to school to get her masters.
“I’m still dying to win, but I have a different purpose,” said Moreno, who turned professional in 2009 and is now 32 years old. “I want to make every putt of course, but I don’t have the extra pressure.”
Even if Moreno earns her LPGA card, she’s still going to stick to her reduced schedule on the LPGA. She’ll have to find new sponsors to fund her season on the LPGA.
Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye can wait a week. Moreno will play four of the final five events to possibly determine her golf future. However it turns out, she’s in a good place and excited for her future – on or off the golf course.