LPGA's 36-hole mad dash in Texas doesn't rattle Alison Walshe

Darren Carroll/Getty Images

LPGA's 36-hole mad dash in Texas doesn't rattle Alison Walshe

LPGA Tour

LPGA's 36-hole mad dash in Texas doesn't rattle Alison Walshe

THE COLONY, Texas – Alison Walshe took a break from binge-watching “Dexter” on Netflix to catch a soggy Kentucky Derby. The LPGA can relate. The ponchos are gone, but it’s a sprint to the finish at the Volunteers of American LPGA Texas Classic. The now 36-hole, no-cut event could be just the thing to catapult some players into a new stratosphere for the rest of the season. 

For a player like Walshe, who quit the game and took a desk job in Boston over the offseason, a strong finish on Sunday would ensure a strong schedule for the rest of the season. Walshe opened with a 2-under 69 and sits five shots back of Nicole Broch Larsen. A foursome of players hold a share of second: Aditi Ashok, Gaby Lopez, Sung Hyun Park and Jenny Shin.

A combination of heavy rains, strong wind and fog contributed to the first 36-hole event in five years on the LPGA. Half the field started their second (and final) round on Saturday afternoon. Final-round play will resume at 9 a.m. The last tee time on Sunday is 1:36 p.m.

Broche Larsen might spend Sunday afternoon resuming her own Netflix binge as she waits to see how things shake out.

I’m watching ‘Scandal’ at the moment,” she said. “And, I mean, I started on the way here, in my flight from San Fran, because it was the only thing that I had downloaded to my iPad, so I thought I will give it a chance. Now I’m addicted.”

Walshe didn’t get into an event this season until mid-April. Any player who has cashed a paycheck in 2018 following the Texas Classic moves into Category 15 on the LPGA Priority List. (Walshe is currently Category 17.)

Major winners like Park (-6), In Gee Chun (-4), Mo Martin (-4) and Ariya Jutanugarn (-3) will have to fend off a host of players looking for their first LPGA victories. The pressure of finishing a round on Sunday morning – with no repairing – might play nicely into the hands of those looking to break through, such as India’s Ashok, Lopez of Mexico or Broch Larsen of Denmark. Moriya Jutanguarn, last month’s winner in LA, sits three shot back of Larsen with five to play.

Nothing about this week has felt normal.  Leader Larsen could post the winning score on the ninth hole Sunday morning.

“I had a wait time of a total 18 hours,” said Shin of her early-week schedule. “I waited in the car for the first nine hours on Thursday.”

Emily Tubert Monday-qualified for last month’s HUGEL-JTBC LA Open at Wilshire Country Club, a course with deep family roots. She missed the cut in LA, her first start to the season, but could move into Category 15 by finishing in the top 70 Sunday. (Top 70 and ties earn a paycheck.)

Ashok drained an 11-foot par putt on the 14th hole to conclude play on Saturday. She birdied three consecutive holes on the back nine and has four left to finish Sunday morning. No Indian woman has ever won the LPGA. Ashok, a three-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, will need to make one final push to make history in Texas.

“I’m pretty confident they’re going to shoot low numbers tomorrow,” said Ashok of those players at 6 under who still have 18 holes remaining, “but still, I want to give them something to go for.”

Alison Walshe and Chris Herrick wed in Boston last year. (Courtesy Alison Walshe)

Walshe, an Arizona grad, married Chris Herrick last year and moved back to her Boston roots after her husband took a new job. Following an abysmal 2017 (four missed cuts) and 2016 (16 missed cuts), Walshe called an old pal for advice about breaking into the business world. He offered a job at his start-up IT company, Clearsurance, and Walshe put away her sticks. She insists that she enjoyed the new gig, but when the LPGA Q-School deadline drew near, her gut wouldn’t let it pass without her. Taking a desk job made Walshe quickly realize that she didn’t want her golf career to end like that.

And so began a rather awkward conversation: “Listen, I know I just stared working here, but I already want to quit.”

Knowing that she wouldn’t get into an event until the spring, a reinvigorated Walshe went back to her childhood coach and dropped the added stress. How long she continues to compete is up in the air, but Texas could change a lot of things.

“It’s an addicting game,” she said.

And this week, more than most, anything is possible.

 

Latest

More Golfweek
Home