Stephanie Meadow’s long-awaited return to LPGA Tour company is finally upon us this week as the Jordanstown golfer gets her season underway at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia.
Having secured her LPGA status through the Symetra Tour’s Order of Merit all the way back in October, the biggest challenge for Meadow over a long off-season was remaining competitive but having arrived Down Under on Friday, and with Cactus Tour starts under her belt, she is ready to once more tackle a tour that through grief and injury, doesn’t hold great memories.
“I’ve had lots of time to prepare myself mentally for the LPGA Tour already and it’s funny, I guess there’s some residual bad memories there,” she admitted. “I felt so confident on Symetra last year right up to winning my card in October but then I took a longer break than expected before Christmas and all of a sudden, I was getting flashback memories.
“I spoke to my sports psychologists and they told me it’s perfectly normal; that I had, I don’t want to say failures but that’s how I felt they were in previous years. I just have to remind myself: that’s not me, that’s two, three years ago.
“You have to forget about that and let those memories sweep by and focus on the confidence I built playing on Symetra. At the end of the day it’s the same game, it’s golf.”
Having faced those challenges head on, Meadow arrives at the only professional tournament in the world that sees players from both the men’s and women’s Tours play on the same golf courses, at the same time, for equal prize money.
Stars from the European Tour, including our own Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan and Michael Hoey, and LPGA Tour have teamed up with the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the ALPG Tour to offer fans a unique and innovative tournament.
The male and female tournaments run concurrently, meaning they won’t necessarily compete directly against each other but will play in alternating men’s and women’s groups, and will play for a purse of $3,000,000 split equally. For Meadow’s part, she now feels ready to take on the big time once more.
“I feel great about everything,” she continued. “I’m excited to be here. It’s nice booking all the travel stuff and booking everything up to July, everything’s organised, what tournaments I’m going to play in. It’s great to have a schedule set out whereas in the past it was, ‘would I get into this and that’, and that carries its own stress. Now I can just throw myself into it and really go for it.”
Meadow will have a familiar face for company too with news that Leona Maguire was handed a late sponsor’s invitation to compete across the Beach and Creek courses at 13th Beach Golf Club.
“Delighted to start my 2019 season at the Vic Open Golf next week,” she tweeted. “Thank you so much to ISPSHanda and Golf Australia for this incredible opportunity. Can’t wait to get started!”
Maguire, now a fully-fledged member of the Ladies European Tour, is expected to play two LET events following the tournament at 13th Beach Golf Club – the Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville (Feb 21-24) and the ActewAGL Canberra Classic at Royal Canberra GC (Mar 1-3).
The ISPS Handa Open starts Thursday, February 7-10 with a 36-hole cut seeing players progress to a weekend on the Beach Course.
There is then another cut after the third round, before two champions in both the Men’s and Women’s events are crowned at the close of play on Sunday.
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