Georgia's Reynolds Finishes No. 2 On Duramed FUTURES Tour
Article courtesy of Duramed FUTURES Tour
It was a dream season for Duramed FUTURES Tour member JEAN REYNOLDS of Newnan, Ga. Reynolds captured the attention of golf fans this summer when she contended at the top of the leaderboard of the U.S. Women's Open Championship for 54 holes. Reynolds dropped into a tie for 17th at the 2009 Women's Open, but kept her focus firmly fixed on earning 2010 LPGA Tour membership through the LPGA's developmental tour.
The second-year pro got off to a fast start in March with her first professional win at the first tournament of the 2009 season, the Florida's Natural Growers Charity Classic in Winter Haven, Fla. She added a second win in June at the 2009 Horseshoe Casino Classic in Hammond, Ind.
Reynolds, 25, started her college career at the University of Georgia, but decided to forego college golf to “be a normal college kid” and join a sorority, study abroad and go to away Georgia football games.
She had two top-10 finishes and cracked the top-50 on the Tour's 2008 money list as a rookie professional, but this season, she contended regularly, posting six top-three finishes and two runner-up finishes to go with her two wins. The Georgian completed the season on the Duramed FUTURES Tour ranked second with earnings of $76,647, posting 10 top-10 finishes in 17 events, and a stroke average of 71.26 strokes per round to earn LPGA Tour membership for the first time. She will be a rookie on the 2010 LPGA Tour.
The recent LPGA card winner discussed her two seasons on the LPGA's developmental tour with duramedfuturestour.com senior writer Lisa D. Mickey. Here's what she had to say about her 2009 season:
DFT: You had a lot of highlights this year. What stands out?
REYNOLDS: I'd have to say winning the first tournament of the season. It lit a fire under me and it helped me get off to a good start. It got the monkey off my back. I had worked hard in the off-season, so it was huge to see it pay off. Honestly, all year, I felt like I could win every tournament. I never had any doubts. I know a lot of people saw me come out here in my first year in 2008, and they probably said, “She didn't play college golf. She'll last maybe another year and she'll bounce out of here.” I guess sometimes I don't look very serious, but what people don't know is, I work pretty hard on worrying about myself, not on what everybody else thinks. When I won that first tournament in a playoff, it was huge, but what was really important was that I was having fun. It was like, “I know what I'm doing and I'm enjoying it.” My first year, I had horrible anxiety and constant doubt every day.
DFT: Playing so well at the 2009 U.S. Women's Open, and being in contention for 54 holes had to rank up there too, right?
REYNOLDS: Oh yeah. If you're there, you obviously did something right to get there. That week was special for a lot of reasons, but for me, it was special because my grandparents and parents were there and got to see me in that arena and in that spotlight – to actually see what I do in my work environment. I never put extra pressure on myself. Every day, I woke up and said, “Let's go out and have some fun.”
DFT: People who follow the Duramed FUTURES Tour know you, but when you were suddenly in the top three at the Open for the first three days, a lot of people were surprised.
REYNOLDS: I had just won our tour's tournament in Hammond, Ind., two weeks before the Open, so I was playing with a lot of confidence. But at the Open, everyone was like, “Who is this girl?” I took a lot away from that week just knowing that I hung in there and played really well on an extremely difficult golf course and against the best players in the world. It was my “Big Break” and I didn't even have to go on the show!
DFT: How did it feel to get a standing ovation on the 18th green in your final round? Fans rose up from their seats to clap and cheer for you.
REYNOLDS: I wish they'd done it because I was holding up the Open trophy! Laugter That standing-O was incredible – the kind of stuff you see in movies, like “Tin Cup.” At that point of the tournament, you're just so mentally exhausted when you tap in your last putt. To look up and see people standing and cheering was pretty amazing. You don't have many weeks like that, so you have to file them away in your mind.
DFT: In all due respect, your 2008 and 2009 professional seasons were like night and day. What was the difference?
REYNOLDS: Getting rid of doubt. Even a little bit of doubt can hold you back. It's your worst enemy. I made it to the final stage of LPGA Q-School last fall and blew up. I was absolutely furious that I missed the cut, and I said, “I'm not going back to the urame FUTURES Tour.” But it brought me back to the real world. I had a bunch of people telling me straight up, “You're acting like an ass. You've got to do something.” So I sat down with Charlie King, my teacher, and evaluated things at the end of the 2008 season. My ball striking was fine and my putting was getting better, but I was negative and doubting myself. When you're as stubborn as I am, it took a while to get all of that self-pity out. Once I took a good look at myself and saw how I acted, I could see that I wasn't the kind of person I wanted to be. I worked on it with the goal of starting fresh in March 2009, and that's exactly what I did.
DFT: Fast forward to September and you're standing on a stage in Albany, N.Y., holding a replica of your 2010 LPGA Tour card. How did it feel to finish No. 2 on the money list and earn your way onto the LPGA?
REYNOLDS: I felt proud. Comparing last September to this September, I've come a really long way and it had nothing to do with my golf game. It had everything to do with being patient and letting things happen. I have job security for 2010 and it's a nice feeling. It will be the start of an incredible journey.
DFT: The media at the Open was fascinated by your decision to quit playing college golf at the University of Georgia because you wanted to be a “normal college student.” Why do you think people are so interested in that?
REYNOLDS: I guess because I didn't have a lot of titles when I turned pro, like NCAA champion, All-American, all-conference, stuff like that. I didn't want to waste my time or take up a spot on the college team when someone else could be there who really wanted to be playing and I really wanted to be doing something else. I also knew there was a very good chance that I'd be burned out and sick of golf by the time I graduated. That's why I walked away from it. For the media, I guess it's a different story.
DFT: So many things are going to change in your life next year on the LPGA Tour. Do you plan to trade in “Sea Biscuit,” your 1998 Ford Explorer that has 175,000 miles on it?
REYNOLDS: Laugter Oh no, Sea Biscuit's going to have to break down, the doors fall off, or she just completely deteriorates before I get rid of her. I see no reason to change next year. She's never sounded better and she has this sweet little purr to her. She's been through a lot – four years of college and two years on the road with the urame FUTURES Tour. When we were in college, we used to pick up [University of Georgia] football player Leonard Pope [now an NFL tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs] because we had a class together. He's 6-foot-8, 265 pounds and was so big that we had to roll the sunroof back on Sea Biscuit so his head could stick out. There are a lot of memories in that car.
DFT: And why did you name your car “Sea Biscuit?”
REYNOLDS: Well, I've had her since I was 16 and she's pretty fast, like the racehorse named “Sea Biscuit.” She's had a few speeding tickets …
DFT: What is the real story about why you don't wear a golf glove?
REYNOLDS: Because when I started playing, my hands were so small that I couldn't find gloves to fit. I got used to playing without one and now it's just one less thing to worry about. Again, I don't see a need to change that. The only thing I'm going to have to change are my irons, which probably won't pass the USGA's new standard for grooves. I've had them for six years, so it will be a tough breakup.
DFT: With your unique background, do you feel like you've “flown under the radar” as you move on to the LPGA?
REYNOLDS: Most definitely, but that's kind of my style. There are different roads to get to the same spot. I had no expectations and no added pressure moving from the previous level, and until the Open, nobody knew who I was. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise when I missed the cut at LPGA Q-School last year because this year, I had a whole season – 17 weeks – to get my LPGA card, rather than trying to do it in just one week at Q-School. So often, people think if they don't get through LPGA Q-School, it's the end of the world. But for me, I went back to the urame FUTURES Tour, busted my butt and got my card. It's interesting because some players have the attitude that they're better than the FUTURES – that they don't belong there, but with that attitude, those players will never get to where they want to be. That's one of the things I realized that I needed to change. There is more than one way to get to the LPGA Tour.
DFT: What will you take with you from the developmental tour next year to the LPGA's bigger stage?
REYNOLDS: This year was a huge confidence builder and the experience of traveling week after week with good competition was incredible. This might as well be called the “Under-the-Radar Tour” with the players out there. I learned a lot. I came here, worked on my attitude, made a few more putts and tried to keep it simple. Golf is complicated enough. I guess the biggest thing I learned was if you enjoy something, good things will happen.
Topics: On Other Tours