Texans have an expression for folks like Longhorn alumnus Agathe Laisne. She’s got more guts than you could hang on a fence and would charge hell with a bucket of water. Now, saying something like that in France, which is where Laisne is actually from, will get you more sideways looks than wearing a Stetson into the Louvre. But Laisne appears not to care a wit. After a second consecutive 69 at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Florida, the Parisian from Austin is four shots out of the lead in Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, or as they say in hill country, positioned like a possum in slop.
“I just parred a lot,” Laisne said. “I was close to the holes. I was just not making putts. But I knew it was going to come and I just stayed calm. My caddie helped me. He was like, ‘let's get this one done,’ and it came. Then he said as well, on No. 9 because I was pissed because it has more backspin on (the) Panther (course) than (on the) Bobcat (course). He was like, ‘you can still make it,’ and I made it, so that was cool.”
She has made seven birdies and one bogey in two days, just the kind of consistency that serves you well in an event like this. Laisne is the model French golfer, soft-spoken, matter of fact, not too different from her countrywoman Celine Boutier, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour and a Solheim Cup stalwart. It took Boutier a couple of years of Tour life to relax and open up. Laisne looks up to Boutier, even though their age difference keeps them from interacting much. “It's more like me reaching out to her saying, well done and everything. But she is awesome for our country and she's putting the level really high. She won (on the) LET. The week before that it was Solheim and then (Celine won on) the LPGA (at the ShopRite Classic presented by Acer). I was like, she's not losing, so it was cool.”
If not a good friend, Boutier is an inspiration to Laisne.
“She is a double champion on the LPGA, and that's my goal,” Laisne said. “So yeah, it's motivating because she comes from the same country, so you know it's possible.”
Should Laisne go on to win on the LPGA Tour, or even capture medalist honors at this stage of Q-School, a lot of folks will need pronunciation lessons on her name. It’s not Agatha or Agathee; according to her profile on Texas’ athletics website, it’s Uh-GAT. And the last name isn’t Laz-nee. It’s Lenny. You can bet a herd of cattle that when she checks in at Stubbs Barbecue in South Austin, the hostess mispronounces that one, even though Laisne is a former Big 12 individual champion.
“(I went to Texas because of) academics,” she said. “The school is really good in business, which I did finance there. I was really happy with my degree. Also, golf was solid. We were ranked No. 1 at some point, so I felt like it was really good for both (the academic and athletic side of the decision). The team was very fun, as well.”
Winning the Big 12 title also gave her a lot of confidence in her game. “I know a lot of college people come here and try to get their cards, and also Symetra,” Laisne said. “I didn't know the level of (play on the) Symetra Tour, but I think college is really strong. When you can play really high-level tournaments, it helps you. If you can play well, then it boosts your confidence, of course. So, I'm happy I've done that.”
It also helped that she played well in Stage I, finishing third.
“I was talking to my brother (Mathieu) and he was like, ‘Oh, what did you do?’ I said, ‘I finished third out of 300, whatever,’” Laisne said. “And he was like, ‘Oh, good, that's in the (top) one percent. So, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that's good.’”
She’s positioned for something good with 36 holes left in Florida as well.
“Just do the same thing as I did and keep it going, keep it calm,” she said. “Don't look at the leaderboard. Just fairways and greens. If I make the putt, good. If I don't, it's okay.”
And on the prospect of earning her LPGA Tour card at Q-Series, she gets a hard Texas look in her eye.
“That's the goal,” she said. “That's why I'm here.”
There’s no slack in that rope. She’s tougher than a week-old steak.