Reid rebounds from tragedy at U.S. Women's Open

Melissa Reid poses with the trophy after her win at Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters.

Melissa Reid poses with the trophy after her win at Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters.

KOHLER, Wis. – Melissa Reid has a pair of tattoos on her left forearm. Not many professional golfers have visible tattoos, and not many golfers have arms as ripped as the fair-haired player from Derby, England. Reid’s mother, Joy, wasn’t thrilled with her daughter’s decision to permanently ink her parents’ birth dates, though in light of recent horrific events, the tattoos seem rather fitting.

Joy Reid died May 23 from injuries sustained in a head-on car collision near Munich, Germany, where Melissa was playing in the UniCredit Ladies’ Open. Joy and her husband, Brian, were on their way back to their hotel after attending the players’ welcome party.

“Everyone loved her mom,” said Reid’s agent Vicky Cuming, “genuinely loved her.”

Reid, 24, understandably took time off from the game, skipping the Wegmans LPGA Championship among other events. But she didn’t want to go into this week’s U.S. Women’s Open cold, so she signed up for the LET’s Raiffeisenbank Prague event and teed it up blind in Round 1. She made a 6-foot putt on the final hole on Sunday to secure her first victory of 2012.

“Obviously I was a little bit more determined,” Reid said. “I wanted to play for my mom.”

It was an extraordinary feat for a woman still reeling from a heartbreaking loss. The funeral was held three days after Reid hoisted the trophy. At least a dozen LET players were in attendance.

“Athletes do have a tendency to do things in the face of adversity,” said Cuming, who has marveled at Reid’s strength.

Joy Reid, a former national ballet champion, was a mother figure for many players on tour, making everyone around her feel comfortable.

“She was always a supporter of everyone’s game, not just Mel’s,” said Becky Morgan, who rang in the new year with the Reid family.

Morgan, of Wales, phoned Reid just after she won, telling her “I absolutely knew you were going to win this before you even got there.”

Truth be told, Reid felt the same way. Considering the nightmare she’d been through in 2012 – death of two friends, death of her 18-month old black Lab (Freddy) and now her mother – something good had to be coming.

“2012 has not been a great year,” Reid said in the understatement of the year.

LET players wore black ribbons in the wake of Joy Reid’s death, and LPGA players wore badges on their hats bearing the name Joy. Reid said she was overwhelmed by the amount of support her family received from the golf community.

On Tuesday at Blackwolf Run, Reid played a nine-hole practice round with veterans Karrie Webb, Pat Hurst and Juli Inkster.

“Her game is so good,” Inkster said. “She’s got fire, and she’s got attitude.”

While Inkster has called Blackwolf Run the toughest Women’s Open track she has seen, Reid said it’s not as difficult as she anticipated. She arrived Sunday night from England and played a nine-hole practice round Monday. On Tuesday, she got lost trying to find the 10th tee, looking to U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon for direction. This marks Reid’s second Women’s Open appearance. She missed the cut last year at The Broadmoor.

Reid, a member of last year’s victorious Solheim Cup team, had planned on playing full time on the LPGA this year, but the Solheim Cup backed up against the second stage of LPGA Q-School. Despite being ranked inside the top 40 in the world (and a member of the Solheim Cup team), Reid could not get an exemption to the final stage. She’ll have to go to the second stage this year, as well, which seems silly considering she’s ranked 47th in the world.

“That’s ridiculous,” Inkster said. “I don’t get a lot of our rules.”

Of course, if Reid were to win the U.S. Women’s Open this week, she could avoid Q-School altogether.

Wouldn’t that be a remarkable story.

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