Notebook: Husband, Wife Tandem Make For Winning Team
By Ken Klavon, USGA
North Plains, Ore. – Shannon Rouillard begged her ball to find the hole.
“Come on, come on,” she pled. Fifty-one feet later, the dimpled sphere disappeared into the Earth in what would be her final hole of the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur. A seismic smile came across her face.
“Go Ducks!” shouted her caddie-husband, Tim Rouillard.
It didn’t matter that Rouillard, the 33-year-old ladies golf coach at the University of Oregon, would miss the cut at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club's Witch Hollow Course with a 36-hole score of 11-over 153. It meant more to hover so close to the cut line after her fifth USGA event. And to have her husband on the bag.
“I’ll ask him his opinion,” said Rouillard. “He knows my game the best. It goes back to two heads are better than one.”
“Every chance I get,” said Tim of how often he caddies for her. “I love every minute of it.”
The two were married in 1997 after they had met at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Tim was the assistant pro there before being elevated to the head position. He worked as her instructor, learning the nuances of her game. When she qualified for the Women’s Open in 1999 at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., both were ecstatic. Tim knew fellow golf pro Brian Inkster, Juli’s husband, and made a phone call.
“I asked him, ‘If there’s a chance we could play a practice round with Juli, it would be wonderful,’” said Tim, 38.
When Rouillard arrived for the Tuesday practice round at Old Waverly, it turned out better than expected. Two other ‘no-names,’ Nancy Lopez and Dottie Pepper, were also listed in their group. “Four of the biggest names in golf,” said Tim, who caddied for Shannon that year.
“It’s definitely one of my highlights of my golf career,” said Rouillard, adding that “at the Women’s Open, you get treated like a queen.”
It was around that time that Shannon Rouillard received a call from the University of Oregon while working as the club pro at Palo Alto (Calif.) Golf Club. They asked if she’d be interested in an assistant coaching position. The two mulled it over and decided to move north to Eugene.
A year later, she took over the head coaching reins. In 2003, husband and wife became reinstated amateurs because they weren’t doing anything with their professional status. (Tim went to work for a well-known company that supplies furniture and fixtures to golf clubs).
Rouillard feels having a presence at the Women’s Amateur provides awareness from a recruiting sense. She recounted how one player this week assumed she was there making recruiting pitches, when Rouissard laughed and told her that she was actually playing.
Next week Tim will take a stab at trying to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, scheduled Sept. 9-14 at Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz. He’s tried qualifying for several USGA events in the past, even a couple of U.S. Opens, but always fell short. He didn’t seem deterred.
“Our goal every year is to play at a USGA event,” said Tim, a plus-2 handicap.
“I love this for her because of the experience she can relate to her players, how important USGA events are.”
As for whom is the better golfer? Rouissard took the more diplomatic approach while Tim was clear-cut in his answer.
“She’s got the easy part,” he said. “She can play.”
Making The Trip
Looks like Lauren Mielbrecht’s cross-country trip from Gulfstream, Fla., was well worth it after her 3-over-par 145 qualified for match play. That’s because Mielbrecht received a call from the USGA last Wednesday telling her she made it into the field as an alternate when 2004 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski withdrew.
So the University of Virginia junior-to-be convinced her dad, Mark, to come and be her caddie. After all, as the head professional at Gulfstream (Fla.) Golf Club for the past 25 years, the same club that six-time Women's Amateur champion Glenna Collett Vare belonged to, he had to know something, right?
“We were kind of on the fence whether to come, before she got the call,” said her dad. “She had a bad caddie. In reading the yardage, I made an 18-yard mistake on one hole, but she got it up and down for par.”
She forgave him, of course.
“He’s done pretty good – he did a great job,” said Mielbrecht, who attended St. Andrews High, the same school last year’s champion Morgan Pressel attended. In fact, Mielbrecht started the Kathy Krickstein Pressel Memorial Golf Tournament in honor of Morgan's mother, who died of breast cancer.
“On one hole he made a mistake, a bad one, but I made it up and down. But we’re definitely having some fun out there.”
Mielbrecht indicated she hasn’t set any expectations this week other than trying her best.
Another alternate, Lara Tennant of nearby Portland, also qualified when she carded a birdie on her first hole during a seven-for-five playoff. Tennant got into the field when Germany's Sandra Gal withdrew at the last minute. She played in the 2000 U.S. Women's Amateur at Waverley Country Club in Portland and lost in the first round of match play to Sarah Johnston in 19 holes.
Curtis Cup Update
Three of the 13 people involved in the recent Curtis Cup Match who are playing this week missed the cut. Great Britain & Ireland’s Claire Coughlan ( 15-over 157), and the USA’s Virginia Derby Grimes (11-over 153) and Carol Semple Thompson (20-over 162) fell short. Thompson, a 12-time Curtis Cupper, was the USA captain.
Ireland’s Martina Gillen, 24, breathed easier after posting a solid 3-over 145 that tied her for 12th. She said roughly 80 percent of her tournaments overseas are match play. Acclimating herself to a tamer Pumpkin Ridge Witch Hollow Course, compared to a windy Pacific Dunes track last week, has been tough.
“We were practicing knock-down shots last week,” said Gillen, a 2004 Kent State graduate. “Here, the rough around the greens is very tricky. I’ve never seen rough like this.”
Spoke Too Soon
As In-Kyung Kim headed to the 18th hole Tuesday, her uncle informed her that her score before the 17th hole, 4 under par, had put her into the outright lead, a lead she had blown.
But Kim had three-putted from 8 feet on the 17th hole for a double bogey and then bogeyed No. 18 to lose three strokes.
Had she birdied 18, she would been a co-medalist with Paige Mackenzie. What’s more,
she would have been the first person to win medalist honors at back-to-back Women’s Amateurs since 1994-95. Erika Wicoff was co-medalist in both of those years. In 1986-1987, Michiko Hattori was co-medalist. The last time someone won outright medalist honors in consecutive years was Estelle Lawson in 1936-37.
“I wasn’t nervous but I was trying to make a par,” said last year’s Girls’ Junior champion. “I wanted to be medalist.”
Other notables to miss the cut were 13-year-old U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Jenny Shin (12-over 154) and Mackinzie Kline, 14. Kline, whose congenial heart defect required her to use a cart, shot 16-over 158.
Also missing out was last year’s USGA Senior Amateur champion Diane Lang, 51, with an 11-over 153 and 2005 Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up Kerry Postillion (14-over 156). Lang had shot a 2-over 73 on Monday, but struggled in the second round of qualifying.
Beth Murrison and Rhonda Glenn of the USGA contributed. Ken Klavon can be reached with questions or comments at email@example.com.