Despite change in plans, Meadow excited for Open

Alabama's Stephanie Meadow at No. 14 on Wednesday at the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships.

Alabama's Stephanie Meadow at No. 14 on Wednesday at the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships.

KOHLER, Wis. – After she got the lay of the land Tuesday at Blackwolf Run, Stephanie Meadow had a quick email to send. The rising junior at Alabama has to play hookey for the first few days of summer school. She hopes her finance professor understands.

The first day of that session happens to coincide with the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open, a tournament to which Meadow gained entry only three days ago, courtesy of her Ladies British Amateur victory.

All of a sudden, Meadow’s summer has taken a decidedly different turn.

“This was supposed to be an easy summer. This was supposed to be the whole month of July off and just kind of easy, like mini off-season,” Meadow said. “... I was thinking right after the British Am, I’m done for a month, just relax. We couldn’t miss this for the world.”

Meadow arrived in Wisconsin late Monday night, and spent time Tuesday morning working around the greens. She opted only to walk a few holes on Tuesday, and will play a full 18 on the eve of the championship. Meadow has a late-afternoon tee time on Thursday with former Arizona State player Carlota Ciganda and fellow amateur Gigi Stoll.

Meadow’s British Amateur victory completed a six-week stretch of world-beating golf that started when her Alabama team won the NCAA Championship on May 25. Meadow’s first-round 69 helped put the Crimson Tide at the top of the leaderboard, and the team never left.

Fast-forward to June, when Meadow played for the GB&I team in the Curtis Cup in Nairn, Scotland. Meadow and fellow Northern Ireland player Leona Maguire lost their opening foursomes match to Lindy Duncan and Lisa McCloskey, but Meadow never lost again. By Sunday singles matches, the fate of the Cup suddenly was in her hands. She sank the winning putt to defeat Amy Anderson, 4 and 2, and give GB&I the victory.

“You couldn’t have asked for it to go a better way,” Meadow said.

She couldn’t have asked for much more at the Ladies British Amateur, either. That tournament was the second time in the past year that Meadow has played Carnoustie. She also played the difficult Scottish track at last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Meadow easily advanced to the final match and took command almost immediately against Rocio Sanchez Lobato.

“I played really well in the final; I was like 3 or 4 under,” Meadow said. “It wasn’t tough. It was just kind of easy.”

That’s a telling statement about Meadow’s game, especially considering Carnoustie played about 150 yards longer during the Amateur than it did during last year’s Open. The first-round scoring average for a field of 144 players was 80.19

“Most of the holes were the same layout, so I kind of had an idea of what was going on, but it’s a tough course,” Meadow said. “You have to be in the right position off the tee.”

That will carry over into a week at Blackwolf Run, a course that puts a premium on placement. It was stretched to 6,954 yards for the U.S. Women’s Open.

Meadow compares the greens in Kohler to links-style golf: firm and fast. That bodes well for her, because it’s all she has known for the past month.

Together with her U.S. Women’s Open exemption, the Ladies British title also afforded Meadow a spot in this year’s British Open, to be played Sept. 13-16 at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. That’s the same month as the World Amateur Team Championship in Antalya, Turkey – the event for which she originally was going to rest this summer. Those plans have all changed, but for Meadow, the game now is about seizing opportunities.

“We couldn’t miss this for the world.”

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