It has been a long five weeks off. But it seemed to go by fairly fast. I kept busy, travelling (and golfing) in Florida, Edmonton, Phoenix and Iowa before arriving in Ohio for this week's Jamie Farr Toledo Classic at Highland Meadows.
I was both happy and a little frustrated heading into the five-week break: "Happy" because I made the cut in the NW Arkansas Championship and did it by shooting a sizzling 30 on my back nine on the Saturday, which was cut day; "Frustrated" because a week later I was sitting on my couch watching the U.S. Women's Open instead of playing in it.
I didn't make it to the U.S. Open because I wasn't ranked in the Top 70 on the 2011 money list (I finished 78th overall with $77,982 US in 17 events) and I didn't score well in a 36-hole qualifier, which I did in Phoenix. It was the first U.S. open I haven't played in since I joined the LPGA Tour in 2005.
I made a promise to myself to not miss another U.S. Open!
Instead, I got some work done with my coach Gary Gilchrist in Florida. I'm still working on getting my back swing more on plane. I have to work on keeping my right elbow lower and getting my upper-body turn less upright. The main drill I'm doing to help this is to hit balls with a head cover under my right armpit. The whole goal is to stay more connected. I'm frustrated with it as I've been working on it for over eight months and it hasn't changed that much. Then again, when you hit so many balls doing a certain move, it takes that many balls and then some to make the complete change.
I have been testing and working through my swing adjustments since the lesson. Every round. Every practice session.
I will remain patient and continue to work on it this week. But when the tournament starts, it's all about getting into the target and getting the ball in the hole.
It was nice to escape the sweltering Florida heat and humidity. I headed to Edmonton with fellow LPGA pro Beth Bader to play in a charity event at Derrick Golf and Winter Club with one of my sponsors, GLS Construction. The event was for the Edmonton firefighters burn unit. It was a great day until the rain, thunder and lightning hit on No. 14. We were 13-under par through 13 holes, yet it still wasn't good enough to win.
During charity events on off weeks, I'm not too worried about my swing or swing changes. It's all about the participants who've paid to play with us. I always want to make sure they're enjoying the day.
Speaking of enjoying the day, Beth and I also played at Jasper Park Lodge, one of Canada's premier resort courses in the Canadian Rockies. En route to Jasper, we saw a huge elk on the side of the road. I had never seen one in person and let me tell you, the picture doesn't do it justice.
I left Alberta and returned home to Phoenix for the first time since the end of May, so it was nice to get home. Everything was in one piece and all my plants looked great. I remember now why I don't spend time at home in the summer -- it was hot and a little humid for Phoenix because the monsoon season had begun. Yes, that's right, monsoon season, when it seems to rain somewhere in the Phoenix area every day. We had a couple of wicked downpours with lightning the week I was home. It rarely happens, so everyone stops what they're doing to watch the rain.
The monsoons were not troubling for my golf plans, though. When they swept in, they swept in later in the day.
From Phoenix, I headed to Dewitt, Iowa, for the Susan L. Bader Foundation Golf Outing at Springbrook Country Club. The SLB Foundation of Hope raises money for the University of Iowa's pancreatic cancer research fund. The Bader clan started the foundation in 2004 and has held an annual golf outing (plus People and Pooches dog walks) ever since. I was honoured to help. It was a great day for a great cause in memory of Beth's mom.
Beth and I then drove the roughly 675 kilometres from Iowa to Ohio. After doing the math on how many hours it would take to fly with a layover and deal with airport security, the car seemed the fastest option. It took us about 7.5 hours to reach Toledo.
I love the Farr Classic because I've stayed with the same family -- the Lynch family -- every year I've played it. They're amazing people who would do anything for you. They're so supportive and show it not only in Toledo. They travel to other tournaments throughout the year and participate in our charity events. They're like my second parents and, when I'm here, I feel at home.
I've had great finishes here, too. In 2010, I finished tied for 10th, only four shots behind the leaders. That Top 10 is my last Top 10 on tour, so a lot of great memories start to come back in Toledo.
The golf course, just 15 minutes away in suburban Sylvania, looks to be in great shape and I'm psyched as the crowds are usually huge and they're introducing a new event called "Friday at the Farr." They're replicating the 16th hole from the Phoenix Open on the 14th hole here at Highland Meadows. It should be crazy and a lot of fun.
It's also the start of seven events in a row for me, so I'm looking forward to getting into a groove!
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