Notebook: No Caddie, No Problem For Messer
By David Shefter, USGA
Carmel, Ind. – Andrea Messer walked off the ninth green at Crooked Stick Golf Club Tuesday afternoon feeling a bit exasperated. And it had nothing to do with her performance on the challenging 6,497-yard, par-72 Pete Dye layout.
Her game was quite good. A round of 1-over-par 73 gave the 17-year-old from Largo, Fla., a 36-hole total of 5-over 149, good enough to place her among the low 64 scorers for match play at the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
But what’s remarkable about Messer is that she accomplished this without the services of a caddie. On Tuesday, she walked 27 holes – she had to complete nine holes of round one – in the 92-degree heat (102 Heat Index) hoofing her pink golf bag, while her two fellow competitors, Stacy Lewis and Alison Whitaker each had someone carrying their bags.
In fact, Messer is one of two players in the field not employing a caddie during stroke-play qualifying (Jacqui Concolino of Orlando, Fla., is the other).
Two weeks ago, Messer had a local caddie at the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Lakewood, Wash., and missed the match-play cut by five strokes, shooting a pair of 78s.
“I play better when I don’t have a caddie,” said Messer, who will be a senior at Largo High in the fall. “It gets me off my game.”
Messer got off to a strong start in round two with three birdies over her first four holes (she started on No. 10), but fatigue began to settle in at the turn and she carded a 2-over 38 on her second nine.
“Coming into the front nine again, I was pretty exhausted,” she said. “I was feeling it. I made a couple of bogeys [at holes two and four].”
Then again, Messer is quite used to this kind of heat and humidity during the summer months.
“I’m not used to playing more than 18 [holes],” she said. “If I was from any other state, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Should Messer make it past the first round, she’ll be faced with a decision. On Thursday, rounds two and three of match play are scheduled, so she might look for an alternative to carrying the bag.
“I might hire a caddie or use a pull cart,” she said.
Any advancement would definitely enhance her chances to be seen by more colleges. She already has visited Tennessee and Wake Forest and has plans to look at Texas and Tulane later this month. During stroke play, she played with two college standouts in Lewis of Arkansas and Whitaker from Duke. Lewis, a semifinalist at this event last year, won the 2007 NCAA Division I individual title and was a member of the USA Copa de las Americas team in June, while Whitaker advanced to the semifinals of the 2005 Women’s Amateur.
“It gives you confidence when you are out there keeping right with them,” said Messer. “Stacy is so consistent. You can really tell the difference between my game and her game.”
With or without a caddie.
Kristie Smith of Australia planned to celebrate her 19th birthday Tuesday by having a nice dinner with her dad/caddie. But the best present came via her on-course performance. Smith’s 3-over 75 gave her a 36-hole total of 149, good enough to qualify for match play.
This should come as no surprise as Smith has never missed a match-play cut in her three USGA appearances. She advanced to the second round at the 2006 U.S. Girls’ Junior, losing to 13-year-old Tanya Wadhwa of India, and she fell to eventual semifinalist Lindy Duncan of Daytona Beach, Fla., at the ’06 Women’s Amateur.
Earlier this summer, she qualified for match play at the Trans-National in Louisville, Ky. (lost in the second round) and Women’s North and South at Pinehurst, N.C. (lost in first round).
“I’ve been here for a month and a half,” said Smith, “and I’m going home at the end of the week.”
Home would be Perth, which is in Western Australia. Smith has spent her entire life in Australia, although she owns dual American and Australian citizenship. Her father, Wayne, went to college in the U.S. (one year at Bowling Green and three at Georgia) and met his wife while in Athens, Ga., where he was a two-time golf All-American for the Bulldogs. He later played 20 years on the Australasia Tour.
A pro career also is in the offing for Smith. She was all set to attend Oklahoma State this fall, but she couldn’t get accepted by the NCAA Clearing House. After several attempts, Smith decided she would enter LPGA Tour Qualifying School this fall as an amateur.
“The LPGA [Tour],” she said. “That’s where I am headed.”
Add Birthday Girl
Smith wasn't the only competitor celebrating a birthday Tuesday. Lisa McCloskey of Montgomery, Texas (Houston suburb) turned 16 and promptly shot 76 to make the cut at 3-over 147. But she would like to have the 8 back that she made on the par-5 15th hole. The triple bogey included a tee shot that hit off a bunker rake and an unplayable lie. She eventually hit the flagstick with her seventh shot.
“I tapped in for an amazing eight,” said McCloskey.
McCloskey was born in Bogota, Colombia, but has U.S. citizenship. Her mom is Colombian and her father is originally from Michigan. She has lived in Colombia, Venezuela, California and Texas and speaks both Spanish and English fluently.
“I have two passports,” she said. “I hadn’t been over there [to Colombia] in five years until we went there this past spring break.
“I guess I could [play for Colombia]. They don’t necessarily invite me.”
Earlier this summer, McCloskey qualified for her fourth U.S. Girls' Junior, but she chose not to go in favor of a 10-day trip to Scotland with a Texas junior squad. The excursion included a round at Royal Aberdeen.
“We played like 10 different courses,” she said. “We played 36 holes almost every day.”
Fortunately, the Women’s Amateur fit into her schedule. She qualified and now has made match play in her first appearance.
Both of Jennifer Song’s parents are Korean, but the 17-year-old was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., so she has dual citizenship. Her father, Museok Song, was teaching at the University of Michigan at the time Song was born.
“It’s some kind of navigation,” said Song of the classes he taught. “It’s engineering, but he deals with the resistance of ships.”
Earlier this summer Song shared low-amateur honors at the U.S. Women’s Open with 2006 USA Curtis Cupper Jennie Lee of Henderson, Nev. Because of her American background, Song can speak both English and Korean, but the latter is mostly spoken at home.
“My mom understands English, but she is not fluent speaking it,” said Song, who shot 67-73 to easily qualify for match play.
Odds And Ends
The cut came at 7-over 151 with a perfect 64 players fitting inside the number...This year's U.S. Girls' Junior also did not require a playoff for the final match-play spots and neither did the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur...Among those to miss the cut were 2007 U.S. Girls' Junior champion Kristen Park, 14, of Buena Park, Calif., and 2005 U.S. Women's Amateur semifinalist Alison Whitaker of Australia...The two youngest competitors, 12-year-olds Pearl Jin of San Gabriel, Calif., and Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., each survived the cut, with Thompson finishing at 1-under 143 and Jin at 1-over 145 after carding a 70 Tuesday...Last year's runner-up, Katharina Schallenberg, 27, of Germany was the only mid-amateur (25 and over) to make the cut...Only five players broke par in both rounds of stroke-play qualifying, including co-medalists Stacy Lewis (70-69) of The Woodlands, Texas, and Kristina Wong (70-69) of Vestal, N.Y. The others were So Yeon Ryu (71-69) of Korea, 2006 USA Curtis Cupper Jenny Suh (71-70) of Fairfax, Va., and Rikako Morita (71-70) of Japan. Ryu and Morita finished among the low eight individuals at the 2006 Women's World Amateur Team Championship in South Africa...A total of 15,500 bottles of water and 6,000 bottles of Gatorade have been consumed through the first four days of the competition (two practice rounds and two stroke-play rounds)...Kylie Pulley of Kokomo, Ind., rallied from an opening-round 81 to shoot a 3-under 69. She was the only player of the four Indiana residents to make the match-play cut.
David Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.