As most of you may know, the IOA Classic last week was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew. I personally think this was the right decision from the tour staff as the damage done has been quite significant, especially in Daytona Beach, where we were suppose to be playing this week’s final event of the year. Alaqua Country Club has kindly offered to take on the Tour Championship as LPGA International is under water and they would have struggled to get everything cleaned up before we start on Thursday. I’m rather happy about this because Alaqua country club tends to suit my eye and game better.
This was my first experience of a Hurricane. I would definitely say the anticipation of it overwhelmed me more than the actual hurricane. However, I was fortunate enough to only be on the outskirts of it, which just meant a lot of rain and high winds. The winds were certainly scary at times, but were only half the speed of what the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolina’s got. I spent a lot of time watching The Weather Channel, because I’m dorky like that, and the devastation that has occurred is unbelievable. It blows my mind that Mother Nature can be as powerful and destructive as it is. One of the places that got hit hardest in the US was Hilton Head. This is a town I’ve played college golf tournaments in and also, spent a number of Thanksgivings with friends. It just so sad to see how much damage has been done. My thoughts are prayers all with all those who have been affected by Hurricane Matthew.
Obviously with no golf having been played this week, and staying indoors for a few days, there wasn’t too much for me to tell you. So I figured I would rewind a week to our tournament in Arkansas.
There is no question that Mystic Creek golf course, in El Dorado, is the best course we play all year. The conditions are incredible and the setup is rather challenging. When we played it last year, it was a bit of a shock to the system. But having played it again this year, I was able to appreciate the difficulty of it a little bit more. It certainly helped that they softened the greens a little bit, and made them slightly slower than the previous year. Thankfully, there was no putting off the green! Although, it was still possible with some of the pin locations if you weren’t careful. It’s a golf course where there are certain holes that you need to accept that par is a good score. I know the par 5 14th hole is one of those. It requires your full attention on every shot or you could end up with some big numbers. This year, there were a lot more chances for birdie, which was nice. I know I had at least 3 a round over the weekend.
I struggled during the first round in Arkansas. I was having some issues with my irons, in particular. I kept missing them short and right and ended up in a lot of bunkers. It made the round hard work especially not having a caddy. I felt like I was running all day. Thankfully, the dad of my host family offered to caddy for me over the weekend which a huge help. He was great to have on the bag as he had caddied a little bit for his son before and he knew what he was doing. He also kept me laughing throughout the round, which is always very important for me when I’m playing.
I had the pleasure of playing with the leader of the money list this year, Madelene Sagstrom, and the winner in Garden City, Christine Song. So it was a solid group to say the least. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to play with them, as they have both been very successful in their own right. It gave me the chance to get a feel for what it was they did well and what I could learn from them etc. Not surprisingly, there really wasn’t anything physical that I felt like I was missing, other than the 15+ yards Madelene had on me off the tee! The thing that stood out the most was her confidence and belief in herself. She has this feeling about her that oozes success. It was quite interesting to watch. Even when she made a mistake she would bounce back with at least one birdie. It was impressive to see.
So I’ve decided this offseason, this is the biggest thing I’m going to work on. Last offseason, it was mostly physical changes and now it’s going to be mental and confidence work. Although I will continue to keep with up with all the physical changes I’ve made (this never stops), my focus will be on the belief in myself. This year, I’ve definitely been feeling like I’ve been missing something. There’s been a lot of great play, but then there’s been some not so great. I think that comes down to doubt in my mind and a lack of confidence. Playing with Madelene confirmed that for me. If I don’t believe in myself, how do I expect to succeed?
I can’t quite believe the season is almost over. It’s been an interesting year to say the least. I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress, just not in the results. I’d imagine this will start to show up next season. It’s a challenge to make so many changes and to expect them to be successful right away. It’s just not realistic. So the important thing will be to finish the season strong and to start looking forward to next year. I know deep down I’m capable of playing on the LPGA, just got to start believing it.
It’s going to be an exciting finish to the season with 23 people still in with a chance of earning their LPGA cards. Make sure you watch the live scoring on the website www.symetratour.com. It’s bound to come down to the very last shot!