Player diary: Nicole has a reality check

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.

"Heroes are made in the hour of defeat. Success is, therefore, well described as a series of glorious defeats." – Gandhi

Going into this week, I felt so prepared, calm and ready to take on anything and everything. But sometimes how you feel and reality just don’t line up.

photo

Courtesy photo

Nicole Noelle Smith, Futures Tour player Marcela Leon and Nicole's "host dad" for the week, Sam Killebrew at a local pizzeria in Winter Haven.

On Monday, I went to the LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic Monday qualifier, and it wasn’t my best show, and certainly not the best weather with a big rain delay, but it was a great experience. It was definitely a bummer not making it in the event, but there will be more opportunities, and I will be much more prepared for it the next time around. It was bitter not being able to play in my first LPGA event, but I was happy to have a back-up event across the country.

After frantically packing up the last of my travel bags, I left Monday night on a red-eye to Florida for the first LPGA Futures Tour event in Winter Haven, Florida. I arrived bright and early Tuesday morning and my house dad for the week, Sam, picked me up and took me to the house. After being up for nearly 32 hours, I was so exhausted from playing the Monday qualifier and traveling all night that I slept the afternoon away.

Wednesday was a great practice day, and Thursday I played in a pro-am event where my team shot 59 and we won!! Great mojo going into the tournament weekend.

Or not…

On Day 1 of the tournament I felt as if I had no control over what was going on. I stayed calm, positive and kept my mind looking forward rather than getting stuck back on the negative. When I walked off the course I felt as if I could cry, I couldn’t find me out there.

I was trying to find the better player in me that had invested long hours of practice, and bring her to the tournament round. I am just not sure why I couldn’t find her, and it was so incredibly frustrating not to, especially for my first event. Before the round I felt comfortable and ready to play lights out golf and it just didn’t happen… tear.

On Day 2 of the tournament, I was still not truly over the afternoon round from the day before, but went in with a much fiercer approach. I was on the range warming up at 7 a.m. and I knew that I had to shoot 4 under to have a chance at making the cut for the first event. At 8:15 a.m,. I was in the first group teeing off, we call that the dew sweeper of the course; I teed it up and went to work, pushing all the way around the course. I had nothing to lose out there - go low or go home. I finished at 2 under for the day, not the 4 under I was hoping for, but a solid round nonetheless. Even with all of that effort, I still walked off quiet and upset, it wasn’t the start to the season I had been preparing for.

And I missed the cut.

UGH! It took me the rest of the afternoon to really pull myself together. I went to lunch with a friend who felt my pain of missing the cut. We chatted and caught up on the life and talked out our frustrations from missing the cut. In the end, we were each able to find a positive spin to take with us and left it at that.

Thankfully, I have this week’s Futures Tour event in Daytona Beach, Fla. to look forward to.

•••

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