You can hear the determination in Ryann O’Toole’s voice.
But you can also hear the desperation.
And that makes her desperate to regain the form that inexplicably left her after her appointment to the squad.
The desperation’s fueled by a ticking clock. A charter flight to Dublin is scheduled to take players to the matches after Sunday’s finish of the Navistar LPGA Classic. The matches are practically at hand.
“You can say I’m struggling a bit, I don’t want to say struggling in my mind, but in finding a piece of my game,” O’Toole told GolfChannel.com in a telephone interview after she posted a 4-over-par 76 Thursday at Navistar. “After being named to the team, after finishing top five at the Safeway Classic, I went to Canada the next week, and I pressed a little bit to make things happen. I went there to win. I felt I was so close to being able to do that. I was all guns blazing.”
The guns have been misfiring since she was named a surprise captain’s pick almost a month ago.
'You have to be patient in this game, and I got ahead of myself,' O'Toole said.
O’Toole’s missed back-to-back cuts since making the American team and needs a rally Friday to avoid leaving for Ireland after three consecutive missed cuts.
O’Toole had four bogeys, a double bogey and two birdies in Thursday’s round of 76. She shot 75-79 to miss the cut at the CN Canadian Women’s Open and 73-81 to miss the cut at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship last week.
“I was shocked a little bit at what happened in Canada,” O’Toole said of missing the cut the week after being named to the American team. “It was like, ‘What was that?’ Last week, I spiraled. I pressed a little bit more. I made a couple bad shots, and then it’s tough. You get embarrassed.”
As a rookie, O’Toole might be under as much scrutiny and pressure as any captain’s pick in the relatively short history of the international competition. That’s because O’Toole’s selection was such a stunner. When American captain Rosie Jones named her, O’Toole had played in just seven LPGA events, finishing ninth at the U.S. Women’s Open and tying for fifth at the Safeway Classic in her best finishes.
But it was O’Toole’s fight, her big game, her power and bravado that made the pick less shocking to LPGA regulars who saw her summer run.
“I was telling people she should be a pick,” European Solheim Cup veteran Maria Hjorth said. “It was less surprising to me.”
As O’Toole works to sharpen her form, she’s got something special going for her. She’s got an American team rooting for her. The Americans are already closing quarters like a protective family.
“Ryann’s a little bit nervous,” said Michelle Wie, who excelled as a rookie helping the Americans win the Solheim Cup two years ago. “At the same time, she’s got us. She’s got the entire team, the captains, all the families. We’re going to get her going. We’ve got each other’s backs, especially overseas.”
American Christina Kim is just getting to know O’Toole, but . . .
“I adore her,” Kim said. “If there is anybody who wants to talk crap about her, I will defend her.
“Ryann is a fighter. She’s got this passion. She’s kind of like a hurricane. She’s got this fury of emotion, passion and talent. She just has to make sure it’s reigned in so she doesn’t become Category 5.”
O’Toole said she’s been emboldened by teammates who’ve reached out to her.
“So many of them are encouraging me, asking if there’s anything they can do for me, if I need advice,” O’Toole said. “That’s been great.”
O’Toole also believes she’s going to round into form.
“My ball striking’s good, it’s my scoring right now,” O’Toole said. “But I’m working hard, and I’m learning a lot about my game and myself. My game’s getting stronger through this. I feel it.”
If these matches prove close, O’Toole’s strength will be needed.