Number Crunching 2013: Melissa Eaton
Over the final two weeks of 2013, we will be breaking down players that rose and fell over the past 12 months. Check out the entire series here.
• • •
Ranking/movement: +129 (No. 387 to 258)
Why the rise? Before her maiden Symetra Tour victory in March, Eaton had decided to move her career to Europe. The South African was in search of a change in scenery and a change in competition that might spur a fresh start. Thus, the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic was strictly a warm-up as she prepared for the Ladies European Tour.
Eaton chalks up that week’s victory to improved putting. It’s generally the aspect of her game that holds her back, but that week, Eaton had fewer than 30 putts in each round. Her putting average for the season was 30.24.
“If I could just make more putts, then I would win more golf tournaments,” Eaton said. “And I saw that happen when I did win.”
With help from a sponsor, Eaton visited putting coach Dave Stockton in 2012. Stockton helped with Eaton’s short-game fundamentals. Meanwhile, she continued work with swing coach Kevin Kirk and shut out unsolicited advice.
“Basically I committed to owning my own game,” Eaton said.
Perhaps the biggest change in Eaton’s life in 2013 was a divorce after two years of marriage. For the first time since turning professional, Eaton was on her own. She moved from The Woodlands, Texas, to Mandeville, La., to live with a South African family and spent the year traveling with fellow LSU alumna Katy Harris.
“It’s been the most amazing year to focus on my career,” Eaton said.
After barely missing a spot in the top 10 on the Symetra Tour’s year-end money list (She was 13th, 97 spots higher than in 2012), Eaton failed to secure her 2014 LPGA card for at Q-School earlier this month.
Eaton says: “The only thing that can hold me back is myself. I just have to keep believing like I have up to this point and I can see results.”