Playing with the pros: Nicole Vandermade
Sept. 5, 2009
Hello again, Longhorns!
I am here in Calgary and wanted to let you guys in on my experiences playing in my first LPGA event, the CN Canadian Women’s Open in Alberta, Calgary. My tee time on Thursday was 7:40 a.m. local time and it was an early morning, to say the least. Even though I had to get up early (I am usually not a morning person), I jumped out of bed. After so many weeks of anticipation, the day had finally arrived that I would tee it up on golf's biggest stage in my home country.
I had a good warm-up session and then headed to the first tee. While waiting to tee off on the first hole, I was not feeling nervous at all, and instead, I just felt like I was playing in a regular college event. Even after both of my playing partners, Amy Hung and Reilley Rankin, teed off, I was feeling fine. Then, the starter announced my name. He announced where I was from and that I was on the Canadian National Team and the crowd cheered three times as loud. This is when nervousness and excitement came over me and I could barely get my ball on the tee!
I went through my pre-shot routine, and that calmed me down before I stepped up to the ball and blasted my drive right down the middle of the fairway. I definitely had some adrenaline pumping because I outdrove my playing partners by more than 50 yards! I played steady golf the first few holes, but had a bad stretch in the middle of my round where I was 5-over-par in four holes.
I worked to change my mind set from playing not-to-play bad to playing-to-play well. Walking down the 12th fairway, my caddie - my brother Chadd - gave me a pep talk and got me feeling loose again. This helped a lot as I birdied three of my last four holes. I was really happy with the way I finished and was focused on carrying that momentum into Friday's round.
After the round I practiced some chipping and putting, then went back to my hotel room to catch up on some homework and took a little nap. Some family friends from back in Ontario came to watch me this week, so my family and I went out to dinner with them.
After dinner I was pretty tired from all the excitement of the day and went to bed really early. I did not tee off until 1:20 p.m. on Friday, and I got to sleep in and do some homework before I headed to the course. I was really fired up and ready to play because I knew I would have to shoot a few under to make the cut.
My goal for the day was to set an intention with each shot and commit to it and see where that left me at the end of the day. I started off the day right with a few solid pars. I bogeyed 13, which was my fourth hole of the day, and this made me realize I needed to start making some birdies if I wanted to be playing on the weekend. I went on to birdie 16 and 18 to get it to 1-under on the day. I played really well on the front nine, giving myself lots of opportunities to make birdies. Unfortunately, the putts did not fall, but I was really proud of the fact I made a birdie right after making a bogey on the front side.
I finished 3-over for the tournament and missed the cut by only two strokes after being 7-over through 11 holes the first day. Although I wish I was still playing this weekend, I have taken a lot of positives away from the tournament. Being alongside the best LPGA players made me realize that my game is not as far off from theirs as I had thought. It definitely drove home the point that I need to work on my chipping and putting, because those two things are the big reasons why I didn't have a tee time today.
This tournament also gave me many memories that will last a lifetime. The most memorable of the tournament would be playing the 18th hole on Friday. It is a par-5, and I drove my ball in the rough so I had to lay up to 110 yards. The pin was on top of a ridge on the back-left portion of the green and Chadd and I decided it was playing 112 yards because the green was slightly uphill. With the bleachers filled to capacity and a large gallery watching, I stuck my shot to six inches and the crowd went wild. Chadd and I both got goose bumps walking up to the green as everyone was cheering for me. To be able to experience that with both of my parents there and my brother on the bag was a very special experience for me.
Playing in my first LPGA tournament was truly an amazing experience, but I feel like it went by too fast! I know I will get another chance to play in an LPGA event soon enough, but for now, I am excited to get back to Austin! We have our first tourney of the year coming up Sept. 14-15, and I can't wait to compete for Texas.
Hook'em from Canada!