The last time Stephanie Meadow arrived at Tiburón Golf Club was 2015 as the recipient of the Heather Farr Player Award, given each year since 1994 to an LPGA Tour professional who demonstrates spirit, determination and perseverance in fulfilling her goals. This year she arrives as a competitor.
“Things have come a long way since then,” said Meadow, who is No. 42 in the Race to CME Globe. “I thought about it today because I obviously stayed at the Ritz [Golf Resort] then. I was bummed to not be playing. I received such an amazing award, selected by peers. But in my heart, all I wanted to do was play. This is what I love to do, and it has always been my dream.
“There were definitely points in my career where I thought I was done - 2015 and 2016. I wasn’t in a good place mentally, so now to be in position where I’m playing, it hit me a little bit harder yesterday when I first walked on. I’m just proud of myself for sticking it out and excited to see what I can continue to do.”
In May of 2015, Meadow lost her father Robert to pancreatic cancer. She didn’t touch a golf club for five weeks after. The Heather Farr Player Award was a small condolence from the pain of losing a loved one. Later that same summer, she learned of a stress fracture in her back. In 12 events as an LPGA rookie that year, Meadow made one cut—a tied for 20th finish at the ANA Inspiration.
Meadow continued to battle but eventually was forced to regain LPGA status through the Symetra Tour. She won the 2018 IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, propelling her into the Volvik Race for the Card top-10 by season’s end to qualify for the LPGA as a Symetra Tour graduate. Back to where she belonged.
Her return wasn’t a walk in the park. She entered the Volunteers of America Classic week in October 2019 in need of a solid finish to retain her LPGA card for 2020. Walking up the 72nd hole at Old American Golf Club, Meadow knew exactly what she needed to do. And she did it, by draining a long birdie putt under pressure to seal her spot on the big stage once again.
“I couldn't have missed the leaderboard, it was literally right behind my putt,” Meadow said laughingly. “I learned a lot about myself that week. I knew what I had to do. I knew on the last hole what I had to do. I knew I needed birdie to kind of guarantee it. To actually do it and prove under the gun you can pull it off, that was awesome. I think I've been able to carry that through.
“This whole year has just been kind of almost proving to myself that I do belong here. To consistently be making cuts, it builds confidence. Such a long journey but a good one. You learn a lot of things along the way, and hopefully I can use those in the future.”