Baldry: Singing praises for Symetra's Christine Song
Sunday, September 22, 2013
REUNION, Fla. – Christine Song has met with instructor Sean Foley only one time this season. That 90-minute session was back in April, and she won the next week in Sarasota.
“He has some kind of power to make you hit it better,” said Song, who started working with Foley four years ago.
“Before Tiger,” she reminds us.
Foley’s wisdom: Don’t worry about anything. You can do it.
Confidence goes a long way in this game of inches.
The Volvik Championship’s Wednesday afternoon pro-am at Reunion Resort got off to an ominous-looking start with the typical black clouds that cramp Florida’s afternoon style. Song popped her orange Volvik umbrella and offered a dry walk to the clubhouse. It was the first of countless kind gestures from the young pro throughout the next six hours. It’s no wonder a fan on the verge of golf burnout renewed his spirit after a pro-am experience with Song last June.
“I must say that I had the most fun I have had on a golf course in my life,” Jim Pysh of Valparaiso, Ind., wrote to tournament organizers in South Bend. Pysh has managed a golf retail store for nearly 19 years and called Song a “a great ambassador for your tour and our game.”
Pro-am experiences that surpass expectations are the hallmark of the LPGA and its developmental circuit, the Symetra Tour. Song, a player of modest distance and tremendous accuracy, doesn’t carry a big game or a big personality. But her pleasant disposition and humble spirit make her an ideal touring-pro partner.
In short, Song gives the impression during a pro-am round that there’s nowhere else she’d rather be than in your foursome. That’s pro-am gold.
Song, 22, surely has gained fans at each stop along the way as she and her father, David, hit the road in the family Yukon and work their way toward another LPGA card. Song’s parents once owned an optical store in California, but now spend their time and energy on their only child’s golf career. Michelle Song joined the traveling circus for one season in a separate car. (The Songs don’t travel lightly.) But now it’s back to a father-daughter adventure, with mom back home in Knoxville, Tenn., with their two dogs, hitting the refresh button and phoning soon after the last putt drops.
There was a short time when Song considered going to college, but a top-30 finish at Symetra Tour Q-School changed her mind. She could always go back to school, she reasoned.
“I probably won’t,” Song now concedes. Not anytime soon, at least.
Song stands second on the Symetra Tour money list, and with only two events left in the season, in prime shape to win the money title. The top 10 players earn LPGA cards for 2014.
Song, a two-time winner this year, won her first two tournaments on the Symetra Tour at the age of 18. That early success, however, didn’t transfer to the next level. After playing 2011 on the LPGA, she lost her card.
This time around, Song will carry an improved short game to the LPGA but knows she must add to her 220-yard average off the tee. She hopes to work with Foley at least two times a month during the offseason. USC standout Annie Park, a friend from the AJGA, was the one who recommended Foley to Song.
There’s a sparkling yellow smiley-face ball-marker on the brim of Song’s visor. It has been there for years. She traded it once for a hamburger but quickly switched back to the smiley. The hamburger was too tough to find on the greens.
Just as well. Song is full of bright spots.