Mariah Stackhouse is just more comfortable on the LPGA in year two. Some of her best friends are now playing on Tour. In the Bahamas, she played charades one day with Emma Talley, Lauren Kim and Caroline Inglis. Stackhouse and Kim bounced around the island on another day and snapped photos at different scenic locations.
“A lot of people in my (college) class are now out on the LPGA so I have a lot more friends this year," explained Stackhouse, who finished T11 in the Bahamas to start the year. “Not just golf friends, but a community of people to hang out with and enjoy life on Tour.”
Stackhouse knew one way or another that she’d get into the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic last week. She’s a Pure Silk ambassador so either she was going to get in with her priority list number or receive an exemption. She got the exemption and knew it was critical to capitalize.
“It’s huge, you only have two tournaments on American soil before the ANA (Inspiration),” explained Stackhouse on the importance of her week. “It’s imperative that you play well early or you won’t be in the first major. Between this and the Founders Cup, they may be my only two opportunities early. You feel compelled to show up and perform.”
That’s exactly what the former Stanford All-American did. In the windiest conditions she had ever experienced, rounds of 74-68-73 helped her get off to a great start.
“I played solidly Thursday morning, I scrambled brilliantly,” said Stackhouse when reached just after she had returned from the Bahamas. “I didn’t allow the wind to get me out of whack.”
It’s a mentality change this year that really has Stackhouse sensing a strong year.
“Last year, I was so focused on finishing high on the leaderboard in order to make money and move up the money list (to secure status),” explained Stackhouse. “I think a direct focus on the money list is bad. Instead, focusing on more top 25s and Top 20s is way more constructive.”
So, she’s 1-for-1 in top 20s.
“I was so consumed with finishing in the top 100 last year and that shouldn’t be the goal,” said Stackhouse, who wound up 114th on the money list. “I needed to reconsider because my goals were not as high as they need to be.”
Stackhouse was the sixth alternate on the ISPS Handa Australian Open list as of January 29 so she may get into the event. Right now, she’s getting ready to head to California to practice for the next month at Stanford before the Founders Cup in March.
The weather in Atlanta hasn’t cooperated this winter.
Lofty expectations have surrounded Stackhouse for a long time. She won 97 times during her amateur career, won a national title at Stanford and picked up major endorsement deals early in her professional career.
Now, she’s mentally ready to fulfill those expectations at the pro level.
“I now understand how the tournaments go and what needs to done to capitalize. Things come back to bite you in the butt if you don’t hold each round to the same standard. The difference between a T51 and a T21 could be two strokes.”