Safeway Classic: Christie Kerr On Hitting It Badly Plus Other Tidbits

In yesterday’s post about the first round of the Tour’s Finals, I made the point that there’s not always a correlation between playing well and scoring:

…but there are all sorts of instances where a player scrapped it around when he wasn’t playing particularly well. So there’s not an ironclad correlation between playing well and scoring.

I remember thinking when I wrote that first sentence that maybe I should have used the pronoun, “she.” And then today, along comes Christie Kerr proving that maybe I should have. Playing in the Safeway Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon, there didn’t seem to be a correlation between how poorly she felt she played and her good score: 

I actually hit it awful.  I mean, I know you’re not expecting somebody that’s 10‑under to say that, but I didn’t hit it very well.  Scary to think how low I can go with the way I’m putting and holding it together if I actually hit it well the next two days, so I’m going to go and beat some balls on the range and find it.

There is a certain comfort in the range. You can take a fresh sense of frustration with your swing to the great “Freedom Pit” where there is no consequence to any bad shot. There, your attention can flit to the minutia of your swing without having to worry about scoring. On the range, you can feel things you can’t always feel on the course when you’re under pressure. And she would have had a lot to feel the way she tells it:

Yeah, I managed an eagle today, which was three perfect shots.  There were moments of greatness.  But just want to make it a little less stressful on myself, a little more easy, a little more fairways and greens like Lizette [Salas] had going.  Even I could have shot lower, too.  That’s the crazy thing about golf.  I missed an eight-, nine-footer on 7 and an eight-, nine-footer on 8, too, so I could have shot 6‑under hitting it awful, so that’s pretty good.

Always a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Sandra Gal has been the resident, prominent German on the LPGA Tour for a while now. It wasn’t until the 2011 Women’s British Open at Carnoustie that we learned that there was more than one German who could play.

Caroline Masson shot 68 for a T3 in the first round and then 65 in the second round to take a one-stroke lead. Those things happen from time to time, but what’s more rare is for the player to still be in the lead after the third round. Her 68 managed that. And that got her on the map.

Now she did have a little trouble in the final round when, in strong winds, she ran into a world beater in the great Yani Tseng who played in the final group with Masson. Masson shot 78 to Tseng’s 69 and Tseng went home with the trophy. But Masson left her mark.

And she made her mark Friday at the Safeway when she ended up 4th after a 69, 64 start that shot her up the leaderboard and right begin Sandra Gal in 3rd. So naturally, whether Gal knew Masson and if they were close came up in Gal’s interview:

Yeah, we’re from the same golf club.  So we grew up playing on the girls’ team, on the golf club, and then playing on the national team, we played world championships together, so it’s nice having another German out here.  Yeah, she’s been playing really good lately.

It is amazing how many tour professionals have relationships that go back to when they were kids. (If memory serves, Gal also knew Martin Kaymer from their junior golf days.) And those relationships frequently endure in the professional arena:

We don’t hang out that much, actually.  Kind of both do our own thing, but we’ll always sit together, have lunch sometimes and just chat about life and stuff like that.  I told her from the beginning, just ask me whatever you want, I can help you out.  But she really is kind of older than her years, and she knows what she’s doing, so she doesn’t need much help.

A couple other interesting things that came out of Gal’s interview is that art is an ongoing hobby and that she quite enjoyed studying ballet as a young girl. And it came in handy in her golf:

I think it’s really helped me growing up because you get a really good feel for your body and how you move in space, and great for balance, too.  Yeah, it’s just like another sport growing up.

Suzann Pettersen talked about how she enjoyed her pairing with her Solheim teammates, Beatriz Recari and Anna Nordqvist. But it took them a while to get into their playing grooves, so there wasn’t a lot of initial chit chat:

Yesterday we were just trying to keep up with the group in front of us, so it kind of took a while before everyone kind of loosened up.  Obviously it’s very nice, good friends of yours, you want them to play very well, as well, and I think it just gives you a little bit of an easy atmosphere out there, as well.

And the other thing she talked about was the importance of physical conditioning during long stretches on the road, this one three weeks in a row:

I’ve been feeling good.  I’m glad it’s only two more days.  As long as you’ve got the adrenaline, it’s not a problem to keep going.  I think next week once I have a week off — well, not quite a week off, but once I don’t have a tournament, I think the air might go out probably quite quick the first couple days.  But this is why we train.  This is why we kind of keep up with the fitness, to get through weeks and stretches like this.

That’s why I ran virtually every day when I was chasing the Champions Tour. It was good because it eliminated a reason that you might be playing poorly and supported you when you were playing well.

Lizette Salas talked about her human support during her first stint on a Solheim Cup team. She came in the form of Hall of Famer, Nancy Lopez:

Geez, it is great to have her in the stands cheering us on, cheering me on.  She came up to me during the 45‑minute delay, and you could see just the emotion in her eyes and how supportive she is of Team USA.  It was just awesome.  She’s always texting me, calling me, so I know she’s watching.

Hard to imagine a more perfect — and selfless — support system.

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