Player diary: Nicole has heart-wrenching week

LPGA Futures Tour's Nicole Noelle Smith during a practice round. Nicole is blogging exclusively for Golfweek.com.

LPGA Futures Tour's Nicole Noelle Smith during a practice round. Nicole is blogging exclusively for Golfweek.com.

At this very moment, I am sitting outside on my hotel balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean … ahhh how nice!

There are great things about being a world-traveling athlete: you get to visit beautiful places like Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; stay in beautiful all inclusive resorts; and play a great golf course with an ocean as your personal backyard for the week.

But the trick is to remember that we are here for golf, and sometimes traveling to these places is not always very smooth.

Last Monday morning I woke-up at 3:30 a.m. to arrive at the airport two hours early for my international travel day. Nothing is ever fun at those early hours, but with the thought of a beautiful ocean at the end of the trip, how bad could today really be?

Yes, eat your words Nicole.

The first flight went smooth. I grabbed some food with some fellow golfers between flights and then headed to the second gate for my plane to Puerto Vallarta. I got on the plane, heard the whole bit about doors being locked and ready to go, then we just sat … finally, the flight attendant got on the speaker to inform us that our back door won’t seal shut and we have to bring a mechanic aboard to fix it… so we sit there, and sat there, and sat there.

The whole time I’m thinking, “I don’t really want to fly on an airplane who’s door wont shut.”

After what felt like forever, we all had to get off the plane without really knowing where we were going… stick close, okay. They handed out meal vouchers and a new gate and departure time, so I decided to get a smoothie on their dime and head to the next gate. We arrived at the gate, and there is no airplane… really?!

We waited there for a while and then the announcement came for a new gate and time, which in the end still took off late! So much for getting to Mexico in time to relax on the beach and work on my awesome golf tan lines!

Golf wise, this week was a much better story. I went in with a solid game plan of making decisive and aggressive club selections and staying calm and relaxed over putts.

The first round, I shot 71 (which is -2 for the day) and the second round 72 (-1 for the day). After two rounds and heading into the final day, I was T-5 at 3 under.

Sitting at breakfast on Sunday, I had a fantastic feeling of, “I got this, I am going to win today. I will shoot 5 under and take this tournament!”

I must tell you, it is the best calm feeling you could ask for.

About half-way through the round, I was 2 under for the day and was told that I was two back from the lead. I knew I had to dig, not force, but take every chance I was presented.

As an awkward sidenote, I just knew in the bottom of my gut, it was my best friend Ryann (O'Toole) who I was chasing on the leaderboard. So making the turn, I three-putted No. 10 for a bogey, then birdied 12, 14, 16, and 17. At that point I knew I was either tied for the lead or winning.

On No. 18, I pulled my drive left, barely clearing a hazard, and had to punch out around a bush and take a bogey. As I looked at the giant leaderboard just off the 18th green, I saw Ryann at the top. I knew it! I thought we were tied and headed for a playoff, but I quickly realized that bogey cost me the tournament. Ugh!

I was happy my friend won. If someone is going to beat you, why not have it be someone you care about? At the same time, it is heartbreaking knowing that you gave it a great show, and it just wasn’t good enough. I shot a 4-under 69, and I knew I needed to be 5 under to win. Everything was exactly as I predicted… I knew I needed five under for the day to win, and I knew it was going to be between Ry and I.

Not gonna lie, I walked away and cried as this all came to realization.

I called my parents who were ecstatic for me, they understood, but still didn’t think I should be teary-eyed. But I will tell you, after you come off the course and you’ve been holding all of your emotions in an iron vault, it comes flowing out once you step off the course, sign your scorecard and realize there’s nothing else you can do. Game over.

How did the money fall for the Santorini Riviera Nayarit Classic?

The purse was $125,000 - I tied for 2nd and won $10,703.

This next week, I will be at home working on my game and some other stuff I will share next Tuesday… and in two weeks, I will be heading to San Antonio for our next event!!

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