Carling Coffing was the winner of Big Break Sandals, the last all-ladies show they did two shows ago.
There was something about her competent precociousness that made her an endearing character. And she was an amazing clutch putter. She was also a very sympathetic player because she is a Type I diabetic who needs to be attached to an insulin pump in order to manage her blood sugar.
And it didn’t hurt that she was as cute as a button, knew it, and treated us to a “birdie dance” each time she made a birdie. Actually, I think it was extended to any good score at the time; if she needed to get up and down to win and did: birdie dance.
And so I was expectantly watching for her name at Lorena Ochoa’s tournament in Mexico, the exemption she won as a prize for winning the Big Break. Not surprisingly, she finished last, but looked good doing it. I saw her on camera a couple of times. But it was a big deal in a quality field sporting the LPGA Tour’s superstars. So it was a great learning experience…just to be there. To actually be in an LPGA field.
So, with that under her belt, I expected her to do well at the LPGA Tour Q-School. They organize it in a way that you get two shots at Sectional Qualifying, the first at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs), California, and then two weeks later at the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida. So I was surprised when she finished T56 and 11-over in California—interestingly with Lili Alvarez, the player she bested on the Big Break—and T60 and 17-over in Florida.
Somewhat surprising because of all the one-shot, do-or-die pressure she survived on the Big Break, but you know what? The Big Break is a keen milieu for handling incredible pressure, but if you don’t make it through, you’ve basically lost an exemption into a tournament and gained tremendous experience. In Q-School, you’re talking about your life, your ability to work as a professional golfer.
So when the Golf Channel started publicizing the Ladies European Tour’s, Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, this weekend, it was primarily to hype the fact that Michelle Wie was entered. No fools, the Golf Channel. And it’s a good thing they did because it wasn’t even in my awareness until they started the promos.
When I went to check out the first round scores to see how Wie did, lo and behold, I see that Carling Coffing is in the field with a sponsor’s exemption. And she was T8 with twelve other players after a 2-under 70. And after yesterday’s round, she’s T7, but with just three other players—including Christina Kim—after a 1-under 71. The leader, Lydia Hall, is at 7-under and Coffing is at 3-under. (And the mighty Michelle Wie, suffering from back problems, is at 1-under.)
So, the point? The point is that while you never really know what the future will bring as you pursue your dreams, you wouldn’t keep pursing them if you didn’t think they would happen. The tricky part is you never know when it’s going to happen. One moment your aren’t and the next moment your are. One moment it isn’t and the next moment it is. The transformation seems almost magical. And the emotional release from leaning into the wind all those years is by now a fixture in first-time-winner celebrations on the 18th green. Oh, the joy! Standing on the far side of their dreams, they are usually rendered speechless. You’re a different person; how do you gather your thoughts? How do you form the words?
I have no idea, of course, how Carling will do in the tournament, but being this close to the lead after two rounds has to be a huge affirmation that she belongs. And that’s all that our egos seek as we get closer and closer to our dreams: affirmation. Affirmation that you belong. And once you have that, you let go of it and just play, no matter the game you’re playing.
You just never know when it’s going to come. You only have to believe that it will and keep doing the work.
Go, Carling, go.