Bauer, a member of the 1999 Duke NCAA championship team and two-time member of the Curtis Cup team (1998, 2000), turned pro in the spring of 2000 fully expecting to qualify to play on the LPGA Tour later that year.
Things didnt quite turn out the way she planned. After missing the cut at qualifying school in the fall of 2000, Bauer found herself without a place to play.
Bauer ultimately resigned herself to playing on the SBC Futures Tour.
Missing Q-school was really heartbreaking for me, Bauer said. I didnt want to play on the Futures Tour but I knew I had to. Looking back it was a great experience and I wouldnt give it up for anything.
It was there that she learned how to live on the road and compete. Bauer won four times and recorded 12 additional top-10 finishes in 19 starts while playing the Futures Tour and was named Player and Rookie of the Year after setting a single-season earnings record of $84,529.
Playing on the Futures Tour and winning four times was a huge confidence builder for me, Bauer said. After missing the cut at Q-school, I was uncertain of my ability, but as the year went by and I started winning on the Futures Tour, I gained back the belief that I was good enough to compete. The Futures Tour helped me adjust to the life of a professional golfer.
The 2002 season was no walk in the park for the native Floridian. After a very successful year on the developmental tour, she was now playing in the big league and was struggling with her game. Her best finish in the first seven events she played was a tie for 23rd. Her worst period fell during the months of April and May when she missed three cuts.
Inconsistency was her greatest foe. Bauer was shooting rounds in the 60s, yet recording at least one round in the high 70s that would lead her awry.
She struggled early in the year, persevered and the second half of the year she came on strong, LPGA Tour rules official Janet Lindsay said. Despite frustration, she never gave up.
Everything started to click at the Asahi Ryokuken International. It was there that she recorded four lackluster yet consistent rounds that resulted in a tie for 16th and a double-digit paycheck of $15,937.
Asahi was a huge tournament for me mentally ' to breakthrough and get a top 20, the former Duke All-American (1999-2000) said. That tournament was huge for my confidence.
The following week Bauer made it into the top 10 for the first time in her LPGA Tour career when she finished in second place, just two strokes behind the winner.
Everything started to come together and I started playing well,' she said.
By the end of this summer she would record her second top-10 ' a second-place finish at the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic.
Beths a good player. I really like her as a player and as a person, Hall of Fame member Beth Daniel commented. Shes real solid - her short game is very, very good. She's a solid driver of the ball and she uses her irons well. But her short game puts her over the top.
Six top-10 finishes and a lot of perseverance got her to where she is today: Rookie of the Year, 19th on the money list with $460,659 in seasons earnings, and the only rookie to make it into the season-ending ADT Tour Championship.
Once I knew that I would retain my tour card, I started to focus on higher achievements like moving into the top 30 on the money list and winning the Rookie of the Year award, Bauer said.
I exceeded my own expectations and it was such an honor to receive the award, and to be the first American in years to accomplish that feat was an incredible feeling.
The last American to win the Rookie of the Year award was Dorothy Delasin in 2000.
Now that shes made it through her first year on tour, mentally stronger for the ride, Bauer is planning a physical overhaul during the off-season.
I want to get physically stronger. I just got a physical trainer a month and a half ago. And I might look into finding a swing coach to help me,' she said.
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