Friday 18 October 2019

What a difference a week makes!

Stephanie Meadow retained her LPGA Tour card in dramatic fashion on Sunday night. But after turning one of the most stressful weeks of her life into one of the most memorable, she's already making plans to be better than ever in 2020.

Resilience: Stephanie Meadow in action at the Volunteers of America Classic golf tournament at the Old American Golf Club.
Resilience: Stephanie Meadow in action at the Volunteers of America Classic golf tournament at the Old American Golf Club.

Stephanie Meadow

What a difference a week makes! I arrived in Texas for the Volunteers of American Classic last Monday knowing I needed a really big week to avoid going back to the Q-Series again.

Now here I am a few days later with a big smile on my face rewatching a video of myself hole a putt on the last hole to finish sixth and keep my card. I was sick to my stomach for two hours afterwards until I knew for sure. They had to check and double- check all the numbers so it was just great to finally get confirmation that I'd made it.

I was totally stressed out when I got to Dallas, and it didn't help that I was having treatment on my left shoulder - a lot of cracking and popping that I just hope was caused by wear and tear after a pretty long season.

It's just amazing to think how great I feel now compared to how stressed I felt that Monday. But that's life and life on tour, and it's never a straight line.

I have to be honest and say that overall, I am still slightly disappointed with how I played in the middle of the season to end up in that situation in the first place. It would have been nice to have it all locked in before Sunday, but I hope I can keep building off this.

There is something to be said for the fact that when I needed to get it done, I got it done. Maybe I need to transfer that mentality over to every week.

I've had a wonderful reaction from everyone, and I was actually shocked to see how many people actually watched the coverage live. I'd shot an eight-under 63 in the first round to lead, which was fantastic, but then I got nothing much going for the next few days even though I played well and on Saturday night I had to sit down to try and work out what I needed to do because I really needed to know.

I was six-under and I had a fair idea that I needed to get to 10-under to get it done. So I was kicking myself after leaving that eagle putt in the middle but short on the 17th to get to ten. I knew that nine-under wasn't going to be enough, but that ten might just squeeze me in, and thankfully it did.

I had a seven iron from 154 yards to a back, tucked pin on the 18th and in normal circumstances, I wouldn't have been that aggressive. But I had to get it done and got it in there to about 18 feet.

I was just on the green by a couple of inches, and I can't even remember what I was thinking over the putt. I just knew I had to make it or I was going back to Q-School. So I guess I told myself I could do it and it went in.

It was quite special because I was playing with Georgia Hall and we're good friends and grew up playing Curtis Cups together. So it really helped having her there all day. knowing she was rooting for me.

When I made the putt, I teared up a bit, and she almost lost it too. It was really cool to share that moment with her, and it says something about women's sport and sport in general that a competitor of mine could do that.

It was a total adrenaline rush to make the putt, similar to winning the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle a few weeks ago when I was leading, and then Charley Hull hit a great shot to the last to put me under pressure. I had to make a three-footer there, and that really gets your heart going. But that putt on Sunday was pretty special too because it's been a long road for me over the last five years.

The last thing I wanted to do was to go back to Q-Series because it's really not great for your confidence in what is a tough environment. But now I can plan for next season and not have to worry about the reshuffle. These girls are really, really good and the line between missing the cut and being up there is a really fine one.

I guess I was able to draw on a bit of resilience I have inside, but it's really down to the people you have around you because we all go through times when we doubt ourselves.

There are days when you wonder, 'What the hell am I doing'. So having those people around you who say they still believe in you is important. Otherwise, if you are on your own, and it's really hard to bounce back then.

It's fantastic to see Leona get her card too and that we'll be on the LPGA Tour together next year - making history!

She doesn't need much advice because she's played a whole year on Symetra and knows golf is now a business and it's her job. The only thing I would say it that it takes time to get used to this life.

The hardest part is the travel and managing your time, and learning that the competition is maybe that much harder, so it's important not to get down when you do miss a cut. Four shots better the next week and you are in contention. It's just the way it is.

We're both ambassadors for the 20x20 campaign which was launched last year with the goal of increasing media coverage of women's sport, female participation and attendance at women's events by 20 per cent.

It's a brilliant campaign, but it has definitely surpassed all my expectations, and I am excited to see where it goes next year. We are only one year in, and they have accomplished a lot of goals - changing the perception of women's golf.

Hopefully, girls will be able to look up to somebody like Leona or me and not wonder who that is and what they do. It is really remarkable to be able to affect people's lives in that way.

Leona and I are the first ones, but there is a lot of talent coming up behind us - Olivia Mehaffey is right there about to finish college next year, and we have players like Annabel Wilson at UCLA and Lauren Walsh making a great start at Wake Forest. The future looks bright, and I can't wait to get back out to start preparing next week. This week, I'm celebrating.

Indo Sport

The Left Wing: Welcome to Irish rugby's biggest week - is an upset on the cards?

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport