It didn’t matter which fairway Lindsey McPherson walked up Thursday, the chant pierced the air from an onlooker: “Go Green!”
That was her cue.
“Go White!” she always shouted back.
This was an out of body experiment from the start for the rising senior at Michigan State. This had always been the vision, the dream, that one day she’d walk these fairways alongside her idols. But never this soon. But there on Thursday McPherson walked up the 18th hole, grandstands enveloping the green, and the ones that loved her most echoing her arrival with chants that only an alum and a community understands and feels.
“Oh, never, never, but that was absolutely awesome. I feel like I was cheering ‘Go White’ all day long today,” she said. “I heard so many ‘Go Greens’ and just that encouragement helps so much.”
So did her dad – her caddie during her first round Thursday at the Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft when she shot a 2-over-par 73. Anytime the churning in her stomach began or the thoughts questioning herself or overanalyzing the moment crept in, she turned to the guy that’s always been by her side.
“I think the nerves stayed pretty much all day long, but I think what really helped is having my dad there with me, so I tried to stick with him,” McPherson said. “A lot of players like to walk up in front of their caddie, but I like to walk with my dad. He reminds me of not golf, he reminds me of my dog that we brought with us, he’s a hoot. Just kind of taking my mind off of golf for a while while we were out there, it really helped me focus.”
Everywhere she looked Thursday, love abounded. So did pride. How could it not? The 21-year-old when originally approached by her golf coach at Michigan State thought she was mentioning it to her as a suggestion to go watch or maybe go volunteer at the tournament. No, her coach wanted her between the ropes after Meijer, the tournament sponsor, decided to use their exemptions on one player from Michigan State and one from the University of Michigan, Grace Choi.
It’s a model many tournaments are going to, giving back to the community that gives so much to the tournament and them. This year, sponsors at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G gave their two sponsor exemptions to the top two on the Arkansas women’s team, and the North Texas LPGA Shootout determines their sponsor exemptions with a College Shootout and a High School Shootout, granting two spots into the tournament for each of the qualifying events.
“Not only being able to be here, but to be a part of this tournament is just such a dream come true,” McPherson said.
Throughout the first round Thursday, McPherson looked like she belonged. She had the pro gallery – friends and family who had all made the hour drive from East Lansing to Grand Rapids – and for a brief moment Thursday she had her place on the leaderboard, notching a par on the first before back-to-back birdies on her second and third hole of the day – No. 11 and 12.
“I thought I played pretty solid today. I thought I played better than my score showed, but I thought I played really solid for being as nervous as I was today,” she said.
Now, her goal is to keep her dream alive through Sunday, but she’s got work to do on Friday to make that a reality.
“Tomorrow? I’ve got to go get some food and I’ve got to get a good night’s sleep and I’ve got to just get out here with a clear mind and play the golf course just like I’m even par again,” she said.
That, and make sure she yells back “Go White” when the “Go Green” chants inevitably roll through the tree-lined fairways at Blythefield Country Club Friday.
Topics: Meijer LPGA Classic