Win shines brightly in the dark corners of touring life | LPGA
A few weeks ago, after a Symetra event where I held a three-shot lead overnight and finished third after a final round 73, I started blogging. I titled it “win… even if I didn’t”. Much like the tournament I was trying to write about, I didn’t finish it.
I wanted to make a connection between what I had felt this week – playing well enough to lead a tournament, finally finding a way (with incredibly painful reluctance) to let go of my expectations – and Phil Mickelson winning the PGA Championship – but it was too hollow. Everything I had felt for two laps was gone the moment I stepped onto the first green of the last lap.
I know a lot of my writing is negative. It’s not because I don’t like golf – it never falters, even when I hate it overwhelmingly – but more because there are so many complexities to playing well and getting results. Players who miss cuts or shoot above par on weekends or don’t win – the latter making up 99% of the field – don’t tend to get interviewed too often, so we don’t hear from the top players. everyone is talking about how damn hard it is, even for them, most of the time. The questions we hear most often are for leaders, or winners, like “what’s it like to shoot 64 / win this tournament / come home with $ 5 million?”
The thing is, in those moments, you feel really good.
At such times, everything else makes sense.
At such times, the darkness does not matter.
In such moments, the spontaneous crackle of the voice during a FaceTime call while explaining a final turn of 75; the pressing shot to refresh for three hours to see how close you can get to 60th place; and the disorienting smallness of not being able to control the face of the putter on a two-footed – they don’t matter anymore. The loner crosses three different states to catch a flight on a Saturday instead of a Monday, the well-meaning but hypocritical texts and social media posts about enjoying a week but not getting the result you want. wanted, the desperate acceptance of silently feigning injury if that means a break in the cycle.
When you have a mic in your face and a trophy you can barely hold (the one from Sunday after I won the Prasco Charity Championship, my first Symetra Tour win, I felt like he weighed more than me. ), none of this matters at all. These are only fragments that make up the HD image of the classification by the 18th green; numbers, letters, and emotions that express something akin to satisfaction once you check with your walk markers that you are reading it correctly.
I haven’t had a “dark” year or career by any stretch of the imagination, although my negatively biased subconscious will not fully accept the application of nighttime meditation that I give it. I won six professional events – out of a still relatively small number of events in total – I was quite a contender. I have great support from amazing sponsors and coaches. I have people who will love and support me, whether I win 10 tournaments a year or decide to quit tomorrow. I can play professional golf and travel the world for a living as a world is still struggling to recover from a global pandemic. And I have things that mean more than golf.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt dark moments. Everyone’s definition of darkness is relative. But as more public figures open up about their mental health, it’s important to recognize that everyone’s feelings are real and valid. Of course, there are thousands of people who would trade in their 9-5 office jobs to shoot 75 beautiful golf courses every week. But knowing that this won’t necessarily eliminate the searing emptiness a player feels every night when they come back down to the hotel reception to ask for a knife and plastic fork to eat your take out.
These dark corners, they matter. I write about them because we all experience them, although we don’t always want to acknowledge it. I also have a brain that never sleeps and plays a sport that you never master, which creates a motivating but confusing cocktail of thoughts that I try to decipher as I write. Part of the reason I didn’t finish my blog after not winning this Symetra event a few weeks ago is because I didn’t trust my own thoughts. I wanted to be ready to win again and I wasn’t. The process that I was in, from a mental point of view, was still going on. It still is, of course, but it’s less fragile now. I didn’t want to talk about it then because I was afraid to undo it.
Rewiring my thought process so that I can trust myself again has been, and is, one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. More difficult than trying to get more distance off the tee or keep my clubface from opening up at the top of my backswing when I’m under pressure or keep hitting balls on a training ground muddy in january when i can’t feel my hands or feet and my heat exchanger runs out of power.
At the PGA, Mickelson found the pieces that gave him the mental clarity he needed to be confident in his game.
That same week, I started to find mine… but I wasn’t quite ready to trust them.
Last week I was.
And I won.
And it’s really awesome.