O'Toole tweaks diet, focuses on making LPGA's CME Tour Championship

O'Toole tweaks diet, focuses on making LPGA's CME Tour Championship

LPGA Tour

O'Toole tweaks diet, focuses on making LPGA's CME Tour Championship

Professional golfers are constantly trying to find something that will give them an edge. They experiment with their swings, diets, fitness and teams in hopes that something might click. In the case of Ryann O’Toole, it was something she removed during tournament weeks that has made an immediate impact: alcohol.

“Even a simple drink made me very foggy the next day,” said O’Toole. “It made me on edge. I don’t think my body processes it very well.”

So O’Toole, 28, gave up a glass of wine or beer for dinner during the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club and tied for 20th that week. She became a more peaceful and mellow player. O’Toole called it a “huge difference.”

She still craves a beer sometimes, but no drink tastes as good as 67 feels, which is what the Californian shot on Day 1 at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, trailing Brittany Lang by two strokes after Round 1.

The lean, muscular O’Toole also eats clean. She tries to stay gluten-free during tournament weeks to avoid inflammation.

It hasn’t been easy for O’Toole since her rookie year, when she finished 46th on the money list and was picked by Rosie Jones for the 2011 Solheim Cup team.

In 2012, O’Toole’s lower back issues flared up and, rather than take a medical exemption, she chose to play through it. O’Toole made only eight cuts that year.

“It took a year for the pain to go away and took a year after that to get my strength back,” she said. “I couldn’t do the same exercises in the gym.”

No more dead lifts.

From there, O’Toole went in search of an instructor who could help her swing without pain. She spent the first year with Joe Hallett and since last May has worked with Jorge Parada.

“I kind of get jammed at impact and stuck,” she said. “That’s what was causing the pinch in the lower back.”

O’Toole has since worked on her transition from the top down and decongesting the impact area. O’Toole and her trainer, Andrea Doddato, did a lot of testing to determine safe workout routines. She now constantly stretches.

“My body kicked my butt,” said O’Toole of the lifetsyle transition from amateur to professional golf.

The Prattville, Ala., stop is the last full-field event of the year on the LPGA. There’s a lot on the line for a player like O’Toole, who comes into the week 76th on the money list. A strong finish here would get her into the fall Asia series, which would help secure spots in next year’s majors. She needs to move into the top 72 to qualify for the season-ending CME Tour Championship. She also has the Evian Championship to make a push.

These goals sure do look a lot better than where she sat last year. O’Toole was fighting to keep her card last season in Prattville. She finished 130th on the money list and was forced back to Q-School. Her sports psychologist, Bhrett McCabe, is on site this week and frequently reminds her of the strides she has taken.

“I’ve been journaling these mini goals,” said O’Toole, “and looking where I stand and looking at the money list.”

O’Toole trails a fellow captain’s pick in Lang after Round 1 in Alabama. The former Bruin knows she didn’t do enough the past two years to earn Juli Inkster’s consideration, but she’d like to once again provide booming drives and birdies for the red, white and blue. Preferably in Iowa.

“All that does is motivate me to be on that team in 2017,” she said.

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