Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic: Finding Order In Chaos

Have you been following the Underwater Open? The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, that is.

They had twelve inches of rain over an eight hour span on Tuesday and there’s not a golf course around that can take that amount of water and still be playable the next day. This one wasn’t playable because many of the holes were little literally underwater. 

So the Tour came up with a very creative solution to at least get some golf in. They cobbled together 12 holes that were playable and announced a routing that you needed a map to play: 10-6-7-4-5-11-12-13-14-2-3-8. And some of those had so much water on them that they were converted from par 4s to par 3s; walk around the tee shot landing areas looking for an interesting approach shot to the green and put a pair of tee blocks in the ground. Voila! A par 3.

Now the thing about this is that you are dealing with high caliber, elite players who have been playing tournament golf since they were little girls. And as they grew up they played in increasingly serious tournaments until finally they found themselves playing college golf…and then perhaps the Symetra developmental tour for the LPGA…and then finally the LPGA itself.

They are used to weather delays that strand players’ rounds overnight so that they have to be completed the next morning. They have had experience with whole rounds getting rained out and playing 54 or 36 holes instead of 72.

They are used to playing in rain gear and working with a caddie to keep the clubs dry. They are used to ending up on the wrong side of the draw and having to play mud balls because the other half of the draw played the ball down. They are used to playing lift, clean and place [in closely mown areas, i.e., grass cut to fairway height]. They are used to finding their ball a foot or two in the rough and having to play it, mud and all, because it was.

But nobody is used to playing a hodgepodge of holes that you can’t hold in your mind’s eye while you’re eating dinner the night before. And nobody is used to playing it without a practice round to give you a feel for the flow of the “course.” But that’s exactly what the LPGA has been forced to do this week.

The tournament had been promoting itself for months trying to drum up galleries to come see these great players play. The players arrived from around the world to put on a show and make a check. And the brand new sponsor has been waiting for it’s moment in the spotlight, a chance to expose their brand around the world to women who follow the LPGA Tour; what better product, what better role models, a marriage made in heaven.

So the Tour had to find a way to play and once again, Commissioner Mike Whan, convened a marketing brain trust to determine how they were going to meet that simple goal of giving everyone what they wanted, a big-time golf tournament. For it to be an official tournament, it has to be 36 holes, so they selected those 12 holes with the idea of playing them over three days and perhaps adding additional holes as swamped parts of the course were rehabilitated.

Now this is not an optimum arrangement for the players because there is a rhythm to a golf round. There is the opening tee shot, the front nine, the back nine and the last-chance 18th hole. There is a pace to it all. There is a fairly consistent elapsed time to play a professional round. And there is the an esthetic routing that takes you from one end of your round to the other. But not this routing.

The one who has handled all of this the best so far is the 24-hole leader [that sounds weird, doesn’t it?], Paola Moreno, a USC grad from Columbia. She shot 5-under 40 on Friday and 4-under 41 on Saturday and has a one-stroke lead. It sounds like a bad nine-hole score when in fact, because of all the choas, it’s a great twelve-hole score. And her post round interview gave us a pretty good sense of the mindset that allowed her to do that.

She is bogey free for the first two days:

Yes. It’s been exciting. You know, I am just focused on what I can control right now, and it’s my game and the holes that I have ahead of me. I’ve been putting well, very solid. So very excited for tomorrow.

Even though she’s played just 24 holes in just two days, does she feel like she’s in the hunt and that Sunday could be the biggest day of her career?

Of course it could be. Like I said, I’m focused on what I can control right now, and the only thing that matters right now is the first tee on No. 1 or No. 10, whatever hole we’re [starting on] tomorrow [10].

And I’m just excited to be here, and I’m going to do my best, and we’ll see.

Did she know that she was in the lead?

I saw the scoreboard, but like I said, I’m just focusing on the shot that I have ahead of me, trying to stay in the present and do my best.

And on top of everything else, her group had to race to finish No. 8, the new finishing hole so that she didn’t have to come back Sunday morning to finish. Did that make her nervous?

No. 8 is a pretty tricky hole for us, and I just wanted to finish. I didn’t want to come early tomorrow to finish my round. But I actually made par and almost made a birdie. So it was good [and speaks to how good her nerves were].

And then she learned that No. 4 is going to be dropped from the routing and that No. 18 will now be the finishing hole. The final day routing will be: 10-6-7-5-11-12-13-14-2-3-8-18.

Oh, perfect. Well, I’m excited. I played 18 on Monday and nine holes on Tuesday. So I’ve seen the course.

Was there anything that gave her a clue that she was suddenly going to be able to play this well?

I’ve been putting well this week. I found something in my stroke this week at the beginning of the week, which was the difference between the other weeks that I’ve been missing cuts just for one stroke, just one putt or just not making enough putts.

And I’m excited to play tomorrow. It’s going to be fun.

How different is it going to be playing just 12 holes for the championship. It’s like a short round, isn’t it?

Sure. I mean it’s different. I’m not going to say it’s usual, you know, but I can’t control that. I can’t control the holes that they want us to play.

The only thing that I really want to do is put myself out there and bring the best attitude and my A game hopefully.

Is she nervous?

Nerves are good. Yeah, of course. I mean I prepare myself for these kind of situations, to play the last day and hopefully win tournaments, you know, but there are a lot of holes left, and I can only say I have to play very solid tomorrow and bring my best game.

This whole interview exuded the two things that she is most concentrating on (1.) having a good attitude, and, (2.) only paying attention to the things that she can control on Sunday, herself and her game.

She knows that all of the rest are just distractions that will take her out of the present, the only place where reliable work gets done.

I saw the scoreboard, but like I said, I’m just focusing on the shot that I have ahead of me, trying to stay in the present and do my best.
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