Reynolds drops Open to mourn grandfather
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The U.S. Women’s Open may be without a Southern sparkplug next month at Oakmont.
Jean Reynolds, a 2009 Duramed Futures Tour grad who grabbed headlines at Saucon Valley last year when she was one of just three players under par after 36 holes, withdrew June 2 from Women’s Open Sectional Qualifying after finding out her grandfather died.
After shooting 78 in the opening 18 holes of the 36-hole qualifier at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh, Reynolds was in the mix for one of three qualifying spots when play was suspended due to rain with three holes remaining in her afternoon round. To pass the time during the delay, she checked the voicemail on her cell phone and got a message from a friend who expressed condolences for the loss of her grandfather. Confused by the message, Reynolds called her parents to find out what was going on.
Her mother delivered the bad news.
“I pretty much just lost it,” Reynolds said. “I was devastated. My mind was spinning. I felt in my heart that I couldn’t play. I knew I needed to get home. I didn’t know where I stood. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get home.”
Reynolds, of Newnan, Ga., withdrew from the event and was on the first flight to Atlanta in the morning. She will need a special exemption from the USGA in order to play in the Women’s Open, which starts July 8.
David Reynolds, 86, was remembered June 5 at a memorial service attended by 400 family members and friends just miles from Newnan Country Club, where he and Reynolds would pass evenings on the driving range spending more time laughing than practicing. He shared a house with wife, Dee, on the course’s fifth hole, and would sit on a bench in the backyard waiting for his young granddaughter to arrive.
“He would always be there and walk down the fairway with me,” Reynolds, 25, said. “He was just so proud of me. He would tell me every day.”
His admiration spilled over last summer when Reynolds opened with 69 at Saucon Valley, then hung tough with rounds of 69-74 to stay four shots behind the lead with 18 holes to play. Reynolds, who was in the midst of a Futures Tour season in which she would win two events and finish second on the money list, closed with 77 and tied for 19th. But one could hardly tell from the raucous support that bounced off the eastern Pennsylvania foothills that weekend.
David was one of a slew of Reynolds family members and friends who followed Jean throughout the week at Saucon Valley, then packed into a Bethlehem-area house that by Sunday was nearing its occupancy limit.
“I’m so glad he got to see me that one last time,” Reynolds said. “My aunt told me that she looked at him after the second round and said, ‘Can you believe Jean is at the top of this leaderboard?’ He looked at her and said, ‘I never doubted for one second that she could do it.’ ”
David died from complications from a staph infection brought on by hip surgery last fall. He had been in and out of hospitals since February, but was on the road to recovery and making progress in rehabilitation. However, his health deteriorated over Memorial Day weekend. Reynolds’ parents decided not to tell Jean, knowing how hard she was working to earn a return trip to the Women’s Open.
Reynolds will play in the LPGA’s next four events, starting this week at the LPGA State Farm Classic in Springfield, Ill. She’s made one cut in four events in 2010, and says her game hasn’t been as sharp as it should be.
She’s hoping some inspiration from above will give her a boost heading into a busy summer stretch.
“Like my grandmother told me,” Reynolds said. “ ‘You’ve got a 15th club in the bag now.’ ”