Some people believe in fate, some don’t. Kendall Dye is definitely one of them who believes in fate. During her victory speech – after an 8-under, 64 to come from six shots back to win in South Bend – Dye made everyone in attendance understand why she believes in fate.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank my Jesus Christ, without him this wouldn’t have been possible,” Dye said to start the victory speech. “I had this sense of peace and for some reason I was calm as can be on the course.”
Believe me, she was calm. Over four years, I’ve seen my share of final-round jitters and Dye just didn’t have them. I started following her in the fairway on hole 13. She made a huge downhill par putt on 13 and then followed it up with a huge par save on 14. My microphone on the camera picked up her caddy, Billy Prentice, say “ho hum” after the 8-footer on 14. She had this confidence, not cocky, strut working all the way home.
She even was joking with a fan on her way to the 15th tee. The spectator said “nice putt” and she responded with “which one?” because her initial birdie putt ran by the hole. That drew laughter from both the fans and Dye. Even after teeing off on 15, she turned to me and said “I don’t have time to do my Suduku right now”. Apparently, Dye keeps herself occupied on the course by playing Suduku while walking between shots. She was clearly loose.
Then, there is just the incredible good fortune that Blackthorn Golf Club has given Dye over the years. In 2012, she made a double-eagle on hole 16. In 2013, she made an ace during a practice round with Tara Godeken on hole four. Her second hole-in-one at Blackthorn came on the 17th hole during the pro-am in 2016. By the way, she rolled in a 25–footer on that hole Sunday to basically put the tournament in her back pocket.
“I always joke with people that this (Blackthorn) will be my final resting place because I have two hole-in-ones and a double eagle and now a win,” said Dye during her speech. “I don’t know why this course is so good to me as I’m an OU (Oklahoma) girl, but there is something about South Bend.”
Then, there was the goal that Dye got from her coach, Jeff Brehaut (who Dye met through Juli Inkster), at the start of the week.
“He gave me this goal of 18 birdies this week – six each day and he said that I would have some hardware,” explained Dye. “The putt (on 18) was my eighth of the day and I came one short, I had 17 birdies this week. Maybe next week, I’ll get you 18 coach.”
Then, there was one of her sponsors, Brian O’Brien from Alvarez & Marsal, who Dye went to visit in Chicago on Sunday night.
“He said to me at the beginning of the week ‘bring some hardware when you come’,” Dye told the audience around the 18th. “I think we’re going to have some fun tonight.”
Rounds like this don’t come around often. Maybe it was meant to be.