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Making it through Q-School

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Shake, shake, shake! Dance, dance, dance! I made it through LPGA Q-School Sectional Qualifying. After a 79 in the first round, the rest of the week was a full out battle to fight back into the top 30. It was horrible, aching and mentally exhausting, but an experience I will never forget.

We have all been there before. You play excellent for weeks and then all of the sudden BAM!  I seem to be hitting a little fade. Oh, now a slice. Oh no! Push slice! I made six straight cuts on the Futures Tour and never felt better about my game. I even shot 2 under in the first round of LPGA Q-School in Palm Springs. Unfortunately, I followed it up with a spirit-breaking 82 to miss the cut.

I tried to not lose my cool. I might have thought about getting a ‘real’ job for like 10 minutes, but then remembered that I had one more shot to make it in Venice, Fla.

After playing eight tournaments in 10 weeks, I was exhausted. My family practically used our last $5,000 to go to Q-School, and I couldn’t give up yet. My mom, dad, and I drove 16 straight hours and put eight hours of practice in everyday.

During the first round I played with Vera Shimanskaya. She has three gold medals from the 2000 Olympics in gymnastics. She is 6 feet tall, long blonde hair, not one ounce of fat. This is an athlete. Unfortunately, she struggled with a high score, but had only been playing golf for three years.

Even with all our practice, it was still not coming together. I shot 79. I felt like my dreams had been shattered. But my game felt so close. We didn’t give up. I played better and better throughout the next couple days. I had early tee times, so we practically lived on the range every night. Tension was high as my dad and I tried to not point fingers at each other (although we both slipped a few times). I shot 73 to make the 36-hole cut right on the number. Then another 73 when the conditions were windy. I went from 85th to 65th to 49th place. One more day.

We calculated that I probably needed to shoot 3 under to make the top 30. My dad and I didn’t say one word to each other throughout the whole round. I was 2 under after four holes. Try not to get excited, just play your game, Carling. Then the winds kicked up high and the pin placements got tougher and tougher. After 11 straight pars, I felt like I was running out of holes. Then when my par putt lipped out on 16, my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach.

I had 180 yards into the 17th hole and made a fantastic two-putt from 45 feet. Last hole, I figured I was off the pace, but in the back of my mind I thought, “I’ve played some of my best golf today to be 1 under, maybe, just maybe other people are struggling too.” So I didn’t do anything stupid on the long par 5. Driver, 5 iron, 8 iron to 25 feet, and then two-putted my way to a very classic par. From across the way my mom gave me a “thumbs up,” and I know what that means.

It turns out the conditions were even tougher than I thought, and the whole field was high. I made it!  I made it! I had the second lowest score of the day!

Well the season is over, and I’ve got two months to get ready for the final stage in Daytona Beach.  I’ll be doing the P90x intense exercise program to get into shape, and moving down to Florida when the weather turns cold. Wish me luck.