Every year, there are a number of college football games early in the season where Goliath lines up against David. Ohio State versus East Padwick Teacher’s College. Alabama versus Western Plains Tech. We look at the schedules and we don’t even roll our eyes. We know how the game’s going to come out. So why do they even bother playing it?
They play it because the favorite gets some game-conditions practice that has more consequence than the Spring ball scrimmages. They play it because the underdog gets a much bigger paycheck than normal. They play it because the underdog gets some good visibility for recruiting. And they play it because the underdogs think they might actually have a chance to win…and sometimes they do.
We have a similar situation on the leaderboard after the first round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship being played in Rochester, New York. There’s somebody on there who doesn’t have a chance. But she doesn’t think so, otherwise she wouldn’t be there.
Diana D’Alessio shot a flawless, 4-under 68 to wind up tied for 3rd, one stroke behind Paula Creamer and another one behind the leader, Yani Tseng. That’s pretty good company to be keeping, but there’s not a lot of evidence that this should be happening.
Coming out of the Furman University golf factory in 1997 with a degree in History, Dee turned pro and did her post-graduate work on the Futures Tour. And that got her ready to get through Q-School for the 2000 season. She has had a durable, if not terribly successful career with her best years coming in 2006, 2007 and 2008. And she began playing Ladies European Tour events in 2009. So she’s serious about getting better and she’s committed.
But this 68 yesterday was special. She hadn’t shot a round in the 60s all year long and only five times last year. She had two 68s and a 66. If you can shoot 66, you can play. And there was a nice progression to that year because on a fuller schedule in 2009, she only shot in the 60s twice.
The thing that makes her so interesting is that in spite of the ups and downs of her long apprenticeship, she believes. She believes that she can do this, that she can win on the LPGA Tour. Because until they give up, that’s what all of the apprentices on all the tours believe. They wouldn’t be out there “wasting their time and money” if they didn’t.
So a nice clean card 68 and a T3 will have stoked the fire again. Here she is at the end of the first quarter and she finds herself very much in the game. She may yet go the way of East Padwick Teachers College. But she could also cobble together the upset that will get her on the front page of the paper and have everyone but her shaking their heads in disbelief.
It’s why she plays and it’s why we watch.
As the dawn breaks on the West Coast, Dee is 4-over on her front nine with a double bogey. But I’m sure she’s thinking, “There’s still the back nine. I can do this.”