Staying On A High
Lucidi Ready To Defend Women's Amateur Crown
By David Shefter, USGA
winning last year's U.S. Women's Amateur, Becky Lucidi was solid
with her short-iron game at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. (USGA Photo
Gladwyne, Pa. If Becky Lucidi thought playing in the 36-hole
final of the 2002 U.S. Womens Amateur was pressure, imagine being
surrounded by a huge gallery with two modern-day Hall of Famers in a
threesome and a challenging par-3 hole starting your biggest event in
Its no wonder why the recent University of Southern California
graduate from Poway, Calif., felt a little queasy as she approached
the 10th hole at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Clubs Witch Hollow Course
in this year's Women's Open.
In winning last year's U.S. Women's Amateur, Becky Lucidi was solid
with her short-iron game at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. (USGA Photo
In fact, Lucidi needed a moment with the porcelain god.
I just lost it, said Lucidi, adding that she had never
been more nervous for a golf competition.
Not when defending U.S. Womens Open champion and childhood idol
Juli Inkster and reigning Womens British Open champ and two-time
Womens Open winner Karrie Webb are about to play the next 36 holes
with you. Its no wonder why Lucidi couldnt stop wavering
Moments before the group began, Webb approached an obviously anxious
Lucidi: You know, Juli and I feel like puking." Those words
eased the tension and the 22 year old followed with a perfect tee shot
to within 6 feet of the flagstick and an ensuing birdie to open the
Unfortunately for Lucidi, the low numbers would not continue. Rounds
of 79 and 75 meant a quick exit from her first Womens Open, but
the experience in North Plains, Ore., was priceless. The opportunity
to observe two of the games greats was invaluable.
Earlier in the year, Inkster, herself a three-time Womens Amateur
champion, had mailed Lucidi a photograph of her kissing the Womens
Open trophy after last years victory at Prairie Dunes. She inscribed
the message: Becky, Way to go on the U.S. Am. Looking forward to playing
with you. USCs womens golf coach, Andrea Gaston, had actually
received the photo and had it framed and matted before presenting it
to Lucidi at a team fund-raiser last winter in Palm Desert, Calif.
I got a little teary-eyed, said Lucidi, who will defend
her Womens Amateur title Aug. 4-10 at Philadelphia Country Club.
About 250 people were there and I broke down.
Such are the perks for winning the national championship. After taking
the trophy home and celebrating with her family she brought it to USC
where it was prominently displayed in historic Heritage Hall, which
houses five Heisman Trophies as well as other athletic memorabilia.
During halftime of USCs homecoming game this past fall, Lucidi
was introduced to the crowd at the Los Angeles Coliseum and a brief
highlight video was shown.
And, of course, the 3-and-2 victory over Brandi Jackson last August
earned Lucidi an exemption into the 2003 Womens Open, along with
the feature pairing of the reigning Open and British Open champion.
Shes a fierce competitor, said Lucidi of Inkster.
I learned a lot. I spent most of time observing her while she
was hitting and in between shots. It was a real treat.
The Open appearance capped off a great year for Lucidi. Besides the
Womens Amateur title, she also captured the Mexican Amateur, a
stroke-play competition held in Guanajuato I felt I validated
myself there, she said and then in May she helped USC win
the NCAA Division I Womens team title. She also played on the
USAs Womens World Amateur team last fall in Malaysia and
competed with reigning U.S. Womens Mid-Amateur champion Kathy
Hartwiger in the inaugural Copa de las Americas competition in Puerto
Rico in June.
Ive got a diploma, a championship ring and I get to meet
President Bush in the fall [all NCAA team winners get that honor],
said Lucidi. I couldnt ask for anything better.
And following the Womens Amateur, Lucidi will turn pro and attempt
to qualify for the LPGA Tour, a path every champion of this event has
taken since 1974. The last Womens Amateur champion not to turn
pro was Carol Semple Thompson, who will be in the field at Philadelphia
C.C. Last year, Thompson advanced to the third round at the age of 53.
This years field will included an eclectic mix of personalities
from 13-year-old sensation Michelle Wie to the venerable veteran Thompson.
In fact, 20 players who competed in this years Womens Open
are among the 156 participants, including 1998 Girls Junior champ
Leigh Anne Hardin, who won her title at nearby Merion Country Club,
and 1999 Girls Junior winner Aree Song, the youngest champion
in USGA history (13 years, three months). Wie became the youngest winner
of any adult USGA championship in June when she captured the Womens
Amateur Public Links at 13 years, eight months.
I think its awesome to see all these young players,
said Lucidi, who lost to Wie in the quarterfinals at this years
WAPL. Golf is growing so much and they are starting at an earlier
age and they are going to perform better at an earlier age.
Lucidi didnt begin playing until she was 14 but only because
the junior program in San Diego offered a hot dog and a soft drink with
the $5 fee. It wasnt until her freshman year at the University
of New Mexico she transferred to USC after her sophomore season
that she began taking the game seriously.
I thought, This is fun. I could do this for a living. This
could be my career, said Lucidi.
Prior to last years Womens Amateur, the only event Lucidi
had ever won was the San Diego City Womens Amateur. She had made
several appearances in USGA events, but had never advanced past the
quarterfinals. So when she arrived at Sleepy Hollow C.C. in Scarborough,
N.Y., last August, she was not considered one of the favorites. Even
during the stroke-play qualifying, Lucidi wasnt all that comfortable
with her game.
Then she met up with longtime caddie Ed Conners and, along with a hot
putter, the two began a blistering journey through the draw. Leading
up to the final, Lucidi ousted two 2002 USA Curtis Cuppers (Emily Bastel
and Laura Myerscough), one of the countrys premier juniors (Elizabeth
Janangelo) and one of Australias best (Lindsey Wright). In her
first five matches, Lucidi registered 26 birdies and two eagles. Against
Wright in the semis, Lucidi was the equivalent of 7-under par over 17
holes, while Wright was 6 under.
Everyone said that should have been the final, said Lucidi
of the 3-and-1 triumph that included an eagle at the par-5 17th to close
it out. That was the best match Ive ever played.
This years challenge at Philadelphia C.C. will be quite similar.
The course, designed by William Flynn in 1927 (the club actually dates
back to 1890) isnt quite as hilly as Sleepy Hollow, but it features
tight fairways and small greens, which means a premium on accuracy.
It will play 6,368 yards (par 71) for the Womens Amateur. And
if the matches are tight, the final four holes should provide a stern
It begins with an uphill 184-yard par 3, followed by a severely sloped
downhill par 4 measuring 391 yards with a small green. Seventeen is
the longest par 4 on the course, an uphill dogleg-right with another
tiny green. The finishing hole is another slightly uphill par 4 (379
This type of course makes you focus a lot tighter, said
Lucidi. So many courses you have the freedom to just let it fly
off the tee and have the freedom to just hit the green. You dont
have that luxury here. You have to hit the fairways. I am looking forward
to coming back. Its going to be a great test of golf.
David Shefter is a staff writer for the USGA. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
with questions and comments.