Carleigh Silvers is in her fourth year on the Symetra Tour. She qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and captured the Big Sky Conference Championship in 2012 for the University of Northern Colorado. She is a native of Martinsville, Indiana.
As I reflect on my first tournament of the 2018 Symetra Tour season, the IOA Championship, I can’t help but smile and feel a sense of excitement for what is to come. Although the outcome was not what I had hoped for, I am still very happy with the way I played and for putting myself in contention. If someone would have told me coming into the week I would finish second, I would have been pretty excited about that.
Leading up to the tournament I was feeling really good about my game, especially my ball striking, which is something I have always struggled with. I was able to work on a few minor swing changes with my dad the week before the event and it definitely paid off. It’s funny how golf is such a feel game; you never know when you are going to find something in your swing or in your putting that just completely changes things for you. Even though I felt pretty confident, it was still my first Symetra event of the year and getting back into competitive golf is always different. I didn’t start my first round great, but kept it together and was able to go on a birdie run to finish off the day at 4-under par. I felt like that set the tone for the rest of the weekend, not just because I scored well but because I was able to take those changes to the course and actually see it pay off, which was a huge confidence builder for me.
The second day was a little different. I ended up finishing 1-over par which put me at 3-under for the tournament and six shots off the lead. Even though my score wasn’t great that day I still felt really good about my round. I hit the ball well, just missed a few putts and made some mindless mistakes. At that point I really wasn’t even thinking about winning, or where I stood on the leaderboard, going into that last day. I just knew I was playing well and if I made a few putts I could put up a good score.
I was lucky enough to have one of my good friends on Tour—Britney Yada—caddie for me in the last round. I was really excited to have her on the bag because she is always so calm, and I knew we would have a good time out there. Before we began play, I had decided I wasn’t going to look at the leaderboard throughout my round, just like I hadn’t looked at it the first two days. Why start now? It didn’t really matter where I stood until the tournament was over, anyway. Going into the final few holes, I had no clue what was going on, let alone think that I was leading the tournament. I honestly thought if I could just get a few back and finish under par for the day, that would put me in a good position. To find out I had held the lead after finishing out on No. 18 was completely shocking. I had no idea that putt for par would’ve won the tournament. After I walked off the green, everything started to sink in and I was going into a playoff. I had been so calm and relaxed all day up until that point. It was so nice having Britney there to talk to and help calm me down. I have never been in a playoff before, so I was pretty nervous. Having a good friend on the bag is super helpful in situations like that. I felt like everything happened so quickly, I hardly remember the playoff. Before I knew it, Stephanie Meadow had drained a 40-foot putt and won.
Obviously, I was super bummed to have lost, especially looking back and thinking if I just would have made par on my last hole it would have been over. Golf is a crazy game and there’s always going to be the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” thoughts. It just wasn’t my time to win. The way Stephanie finished her round with a birdie on No. 18, and then to come back and birdie it again in the playoff proves to me that it was meant to be for her. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for my life. I came out this past week and played a great all-around tournament. I put myself in contention to win and gave it my absolute best, which is all I can ask for at the end of the day. I know it’s not a win, but it is for me!