RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – One day, Bobbi Stricker will have identified deficiencies in her golf game and corrected it to the point of moving up to Level II of the LPGA / Symetra Tour Qualifying School.
RESULTS: LPGA / Symetra Tour Qualifier Tournament Ranking
That day didn’t come on Sunday, but Tess Hackworthy is convinced that her former teammate from the University of Wisconsin will be there in a year or two.
It took Hackworthy that long to sharpen the parts of her game that two years ago were good enough to survive the 54-hole cut against a field of 353 other Q-School Level I golfers, but not good enough to survive it makes their way to the second stage. She only missed advancing by three shots that day, but – with a wicked short game enhanced during the idle time served by the COVID-19 pandemic – wouldn’t be denied again.
Hackworthy climbed up and down just past the famous 18th green on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Resort, where many great champions were crowned every spring during the ANA Inspiration. That ended a final round of 75, giving Hackworthy a total of 3 over par 291 and helping her along with 10 other golfers – including the acclaimed 16-year-old amateur Alexa Pano – to reach Level II, number in the top 95 and a tie .
Less than an hour earlier, Stricker ended an unforgettable week with father / caddy Steve – the U.S. Ryder Cup captain who read the greens, raked the bunkers, and drove the car – by battling his way to the final lap of 79 T. -99 to T-131 at 9-over 297, six strokes just short of advance, but identified several glaring weaknesses in her game that read like the laundry list of flaws that Hackworthy sank two years ago.
“It will give her status,” Hackworthy said of Stricker. “She’s in exactly the same shoes as she was in 2019. You make the first cut and miss the second. She won’t be in every single tournament. I haven’t been in every single tournament, but she will definitely be there Pair.
“If she can take advantage of what she can get into, that would be great.”
For a while on Sunday, it looked like Stricker would take this opportunity and sneak into the Phase II competition.
Her first two approaches were among her best of the week, true darts that gave her legitimate birdie opportunities. However, Stricker failed to convert either, and the ardent desire to get through the first phase soon led to stress in her game that resulted in a tight right hand on the golf club and a series of tee-offs and approach shots that began to miss on the left.
“I hit really good shots in (# 1 and # 2) and the putts were close,” said Stricker. “It was like my Bugaboo in the beginning. If I don’t see putts starting on my line – my speed wasn’t too bad, but those putts really didn’t start on my line – and when that happens I’m tired and it translates into everything else, really. “
For the second straight day, a two-hole course stalled its early swing during her first nine 3-over.
On Saturday at nearby Shadow Ridge GC, her double bogey came in 9th, the result of a drive that ended in the watery penalty area, and followed a three-putt bogey on the previous hole. This time her double bogey came in 14th place only five holes in her round, the result of a sounding shot from a green bunker and into the water hazard on the other side.
Round 3: Madison’s Bobbi Stricker stays cool despite the odds and joins former Badgers teammate Tess Hackworthy to survive the cut at LPGA Q-School
“Your bunker game is terrible,” said Steve Stricker of his daughter, whose most endearing quality might be her willingness to soak up dad’s frank, if expert, opinions of her game. “She knows this is a problem. Your short game is a problem. She just hasn’t invested much time in it … yet.”
In fact, the most notable statistic of the week was discovered by father and daughter trying to divert attention from the six bogeys she made after doubling on par-3 14. This 72-hole tournament was the first of its length in Bobbi Stricker’s career, as brief as it was on her way from high school tennis champion to aspiring golfer in the last five years with the Badgers.
“There’s a lot of golf being played this week,” said Hackworthy. “You prepare on three different golf courses and then have four rounds to play. It’s a whole week and it’s hot and you rub it and the body gets tired and the mind gets tired.
“If I’m in Bobbi’s shoes – and we’ll definitely talk about it too, because I haven’t played with her in a while – but I know she’s having a great game and I know she’s great with the putter, like (the difference) is around the greens. If you can get comfortable with your wedges on the greens and those par 5s from 100 yards and inside, that’s huge. “
Hackworthy’s short game earned the lion’s share of credit for getting through Phase II on Sunday.
Madison golfer Tess Hackworthy, left, high fives dad / caddy Dave, after saving the par behind the bunker in 18th place to secure a spot in the LPGA / Symetra Tour Qualifying School second stage on the number .
She rescued Pars with her wedges on numbers 7 and 9 after climbing up and down from about 100 yards for bogey on the sixth par-4 hole during a critical section at the beginning of her round. Hackworthy then cracked her ticket to Plantation G&CC in Venice, Florida, at number 18, where she overruled her father / caddy Dave and used her trusty 54-degree wedge to save the par after hitting a 5-iron from 178 yards had hit right through the green.
“Like I said (Saturday), that’s all I’ve been working on in the last few years because when I got out of here I missed that,” Hackworthy said of her short game. “I knew I could hit the ball, but it was only around the greens … these girls out here are really good on the greens and they are really good with the (putter). I have to keep working on that, is also my (putter).
“I feel really good now with a wedge in my hand. It doesn’t bother me ‘me like’ Yes, give me the 54 (-grad). ‘ I feel like I can create it now instead of just trying to get it close. “
And now it’s up to Stricker to follow Hackworthy’s example and take the same steps in her short game. This week, Hackworthy said, was just the beginning.
“I’m so glad she’s out here and having this experience,” said Hackworthy. “And she played really well for the first time this week. It’s one step at a time. It’s a complete process. It’s progress, not perfection … never.
“In order for her to come out and have that experience and learn from it, you know that now she’s going to be working on things that she wants to work on, just like me, because there is always something to work on.”