Brittany Altomare introduced herself to the world in the “craziest conditions” she has ever encountered.
In heavy wind, with heavy rain turning to hale, she showed just how tough those players from Massachussets can be as she battled to try to win the Evian Championship in brutal weather last year.
Yeah, she lost the sudden death playoff with Anna Nordqvist, but Altomare won a lot of respect in her first run into contention in a major.
“I was really proud of myself for being able to handle it the way I did,” Altomare said. “I’m excited to be back at Evian, and to try to get into contention again, where maybe there will be a different outcome.”
Altomare, 27, seemed to come out of nowhere a year ago. At No. 102 in the world, with only one top-10 finish in her short LPGA career, she made a bold Sunday charge. She stuffed a pitching wedge to 3 feet to set up birdie at the 17th and holed a 15-foot putt for par at the 18th that felt like a birdie with so many contenders falling away with bogey there.
With her 66 equaling the low final round, Altomare went on to battle Nordqvist in wind, rain, hail and near darkness.
“Those were the craziest conditions I’ve ever played in,” Altomare said. “They were definitely the hardest conditions I’ve ever played in.”
But Altomare loved it.
“It was so much fun being in that position,” she said.
That’s what her father remembers seeing on her face.
Back at The Haven in Boylston, Mass, Tom Altomare was playing his Sunday round with friends when he kept getting updates that Brittany was charging. He had to excuse himself making the turn.
“I told the guys I hated to ruin our round, but I was going to have to go in to watch,” he said.
Tom, retired after 33 years with Hewlett Packard, couldn’t have been prouder watching in the clubhouse with other members.
“What I remember most is how much Brittany was enjoying herself,” Tom said. “The entire time she was on TV, she was smiling. To be honest, I was nervous. But seeing her smile. It helped me relax.”
Altomare says she might have one regret looking back.
“I might have stepped off when it got really bad and said I wasn’t going to hit a shot until the weather cleared,” she said. “I didn’t know I could do that, but I’m not frustrated looking back. It was fair, because it was the same conditions for both of us.
“I was just real happy to have put myself in that position and prove I can compete in a major.”
Altomare rose to No. 40 in the world rankings with her second-place finish, and she has hovered around that spot in the rankings since. She returns to Evian with more than good memories. She returns with momentum. She tied for 15th at the Ricoh Women’s British Open last month, equaling Jaye Marie Green for the best finish by an American in the event.
While Evian Resort Golf Club is beautiful on the side of a mountain above Lake Geneva, it can be a quirky test, with awkward lies and undulating greens.
But . . .
“I particularly like it,” Altomare said. “There are some goofy holes, where you have to be careful, where you have to hit away from holes and let the ball feed to the hole. But you just have to play smart. I like that. I like those courses where you have to really think your way around it. I don’t like those course where you can just hit it anywhere, just bomb it out there.
“You have to really manage your way around that golf course.”
Altomare can’t wait to see what she can manage this week.