21 Dec 2021 | Professional golf |
How Karis Davidson survived every pro golfer's worst nightmare
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
It wasn’t until Karis Davidson walked off the 18th green – the 144th and final hole of the gruelling two-week LPGA Q-Series in Alabama – that she realised there was a problem.
As friends and family were frantically hitting refresh on the live leaderboard back home on the Gold Coast, Davidson was faced with a scoring discrepancy that threatened to deny her dream of an LPGA Tour card in 2022.
Five-over at the halfway point of the final round of her year, Davidson mustered the stomach to par her way in to earn one of the 45 tour cards on offer.
Or so she thought.
“It was so stressful,” Davidson reflects, a week into her home quarantine on the Gold Coast.
“The live scorer in our group got my score wrong. I had a 77, five-over. I was five-over through nine and got it back together on the back nine and had square.
“After the round my caddie was like, ‘Didn’t you have five-over?’ I’d signed the correct scorecard and everything but it was saying six-over.
“I quickly got on the phone to call my mum and dad because everyone was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Everyone was freaking out and then it got refreshed and I was in.
“What a day for the live scorer to get it wrong.”
Davidson and Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou earned LPGA Tour cards for the first time at Q-Series as veteran Sarah Jane Smith regained her status, the pair announced last Friday as the latest additions to the Australian WPGA Championship field at Royal Queensland next month.
It will give Australia eight exempt players on the world’s most high-profile women’s golf tour next year but the two rookies in 2022 have trod very different paths to get there.
As Kyriacou parlayed victory as a teenage amateur to Ladies European Tour rookie of the year honours in 2020 and a second win this year, Davidson has built into her career in relative anonymity.
The 23-year-old has spent the past three years on the LPGA of Japan Tour but when she received just six starts to retain her card this year set her sights on a shift to the US.
By successfully navigating her way past Stage II, Davidson guaranteed that she would at least have status on the secondary Symetra Tour yet the six-week wait for Final Stage to begin proved to be an emotional struggle.
She called Golf Australia House in Orlando home yet it couldn’t quell a burning desire to return to Australia.
“It was a very emotional time,” concedes Davidson, whose only connection to family was a 10-day trip to her country of birth, Scotland, to visit her grandparents.
“A lot of sad times but then you’re grateful to be there and grateful to have made it through second stage.
“It’s hard to re-live it. I had to wait until 3pm to talk to anyone back home because of the time difference but the I would talk to as many people as I could because if you’re talking to people who care about you it does help.
“There were some days where I didn’t think I’d be able to get through the day.
“You’re trying to maintain your game and not flog yourself to the point where you’re going to be exhausted for the big two weeks coming up.
“In that free time I struggled because I was really missing home. Wanted to see my family and friends but I just had to get through it.
“This is what I want to do for my career so you’ve got to suck it up and get on with it.”
The reward for her perseverance is a spot on a tour that will play for more than $US85 million in prize money in 2022.
Given that she was booked on a 7.30am flight on the Monday morning after Q Series, it wasn’t until Davidson was on her way home that the reality of what she had achieved began to wash over her.
“That final round the pressure just got to me a bit. That was my worst score for the year. It shows how much pressure Q-School really has,” said Davidson, whose journey home began in Pensacola, Florida, passed through Atlanta, Los Angeles and Sydney before her 40-hour journey ended back in Brisbane.
“After nine holes I knew I was on the cut-line – which I obviously wasn’t expecting – but I said to myself, I have not stayed in America and gone through those really hard times for nothing. Let’s do this.
“It was a very stressful day and I was pretty relieved at the end. It made the trip very, very worthwhile. I’m really excited to kick-start my career in America.”
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