2005: For Delasin, more Solheim sorrow
Timing and luck are everything in golf. Dorothy Delasin has had neither the past four years.
When she tapped in for par on the 18th hole Aug. 26 at the Wendy’s Championship, it officially marked the third time since 2002 that Delasin missed a chance at becoming a member of the U.S. Solheim Cup team, her No. 1 goal since she skipped college and turned professional in 2000.
The close calls have been difficult to bear.
Delasin, 25, was a two-time tour winner in 2001 and climbed the Solheim Cup points list. But she had a poor season in 2002, finished 12th in points and missed qualifying for the team. Captain Patty Sheehan made Delasin an honorary captain’s pick, which essentially meant that Sheehan didn’t want to hurt Delasin’s feelings so she constructed a way for her to travel with the team although she could not compete. Delasin nearly declined Sheehan’s offer, but thought better of it. So she swallowed her pride and was on the sidelines at Interlachen for the U.S. victory, although it wasn’t in the capacity she had hoped.
Because of its move to odd-numbered years caused by 9/11, the Solheim Cup was played again in 2003, when Delasin was 23rd on the list, nowhere close enough to receive consideration for a captain’s pick. She then won the Tournament of Champions a month later, a victory that salvaged Delasin’s season but also aggravated her because she didn’t win early enough to help her cause.
Perhaps the most devastating blow, however, came last week at Tartan Fields Golf Club during the second round of the Wendy’s Championship. Delasin entered the week 11th in Solheim Cup points and needing a solid performance to slip into the top 10 and earn an automatic bid. At the least, she needed a strong showing to prove she was worthy of a captain’s pick by Nancy Lopez.
A first-round 70 had Delasin in position to make the cut. Her nerves, however, got the best of her on Day 2 and she played horribly. Delasin made triple bogey on the par-3 eighth hole, then shot a back-nine 41 to shoot 77 and miss the cut by six shots. To make matters worse, it was her 25th birthday. What could have been a splendid celebration turned into a day she’ll never forget, but only for unfavorable reasons.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Delasin, her voice cracking and eyes watering. “I think I put too much pressure on myself on these last holes. I just kept pushing, kept pushing, but it was like I was in quicksand.
“I just want to play on that team so bad, I think I just tried too hard.”
Delasin, looking to become the first Filipino American to play in the Solheim Cup, held her position throughout most of the year and recorded seven top-20 finishes that earned her valuable Cup points. She wasn’t moving up, but she was holding her own. Following a sixth-place tie at the Canadian Women’s Open in July, Delasin began to pressure herself and has since struggled to find her swing. She has missed the cut in her past three events (Women’s British Open, Safeway Classic and Wendy’s Championship) and did not shoot a round in the 60s. She shot two rounds in the 80s during that stretch.
Delasin’s poor play in pressure-packed moments didn’t do much to ease Lopez’s mind. Instead, she opted for veterans Wendy Ward and Beth Daniel to complete her 12-player squad – decisions Delasin wasn’t surprised to hear.
“She played very well last year,” said Lopez, fighting emotions while describing her conversation with Delasin. “She didn’t really make a lot of points this year. She didn’t play as well as she wanted to, but she’s worked very hard. She was disappointed, of course. She’s a great team player. I know she would have been there to be a supporter and she would play very hard.”
Said Christina Kim, a Cup rookie: “She has what so many people in golf don’t have, and that is heart. She has more heart than I’ve seen in a lot of people. I was praying she would play her way onto the team. I think she deserves it. She has the attitude that could help bring a team together.”
Some of Delasin’s closest friends on tour tried to provide comfort, but there was little they could do. Several players suggested that if Delasin learns how to handle pressure a little better, she could be a force for the red, white and blue for the next decade.
Until that moment arrives, the sting from another missed opportunity will linger.
“It’s hard,” Delasin said, “because I know I just blew it.”