MIDLAND, Mich. | Positive relationships bring out the best in all of us. You always want to be a better person around your friends and loved ones. At home, you want to do your best for your family. At work, you want to deliver for your teammates. And on the golf course, you always want to play well for your partner. In every one of those situations, having someone you trust by your side; someone you know is giving it their all; someone you trust and who trusts you, can make all the difference and elevate you to heights you haven’t visited in quite some time.
Jasmine Suwannapura has two LPGA Tour wins, the 2018 Marathon Classic and the 2019 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Suwannapura captured the inaugural playing of this event with partner Cydney Clanton. It was Clanton’s first and, to date, only career win. Due to the pandemic and the cancelation of the 2020 Dow GLBI, this dynamic duo, who gave themselves the team name All In, remain the defending champions almost 24 months after hoisting the trophy at Midland Country Club.
Since then, Clanton has had three top-10s, finishing sixth in the 2020 Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio and tied for ninth at the 2020 Marathon Classic and 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Suwannapura made a good run but finished runner-up to Sophia Popov in the 2020 AIG Women’s Open. She also finished T9 last week at the Marathon Classic. But other than that, neither player has sniffed the top of a leaderboard.
Yet, there they were in the early Michigan afternoon, answering questions about the 5-under par 65 they fired in foursomes (alternate shot) during the opening round of this year’s Dow GLBI to, once again, take the lead.
“I think we trust each other's games a lot,” Suwannapura said. “When we play well, we're right along. But when we miss a shot, we feel like we touch each other. We’re like, ‘She’s got this,’ or ‘I’ve got this.’ Then we make up and down for par. I think that's a big key for us.”
Clanton jumped in, two friends who could almost complete each other’s thoughts. “I think the same thing,” the 31-year-old North Carolinian said. “I think we play off one another really well. Our putters were hot today. We made a lot of really clutch putts, which helped with momentum moving forward.
“We try not to apologize for anything because you're going to hit bad shots. And it's like, okay, well, let's just figure out what to do next and put us in an opportunity either to fix it or give us another opportunity on the next hole.”
Clanton used the royal “we,” but she was the one with the hot putter. She made multiple putts outside the normal lag-it-up-close range, including a 43-footer on the 16th (their seventh hole of the day).
“So many holes,” Suwannapura said, recalling the putts Clanton made. “She made at least three birdies that were just off the green, so from the fringe. I was like, ‘Just knock it close.’ But she rolled it in. I saw it rolling into the cup and was like, ‘Woohoo.’”
Clanton jumped in to praise her partner, too. “Jasmine made some crucial pars on just the first two holes,” she said. “My speed was a little off on the first two holes, which she just, she putted amazing.
“When the putter is hot and you're in this format, it makes it a little bit easier.”
Neither has played a single round of foursomes since this event in 2019. And while they have been paired together a few times and played a practice round or two in the last couple of years, they aren’t besties by any means. “We are always complimenting and pulling for each other,” Clanton said. “When [she] has a good week, the first thing I text is, good playing and vice versa. When we see each other, it's more, how's your week been going, how are things going. We both are very good at lifting each other up, even when it's just not this week.”
That’s the kind of chemistry – supportive, friendly, but not too close – that leads to success.
“It was amazing, two years ago on Wednesday, Jasmine played the front nine in the pro-am and she goes, ‘You're playing the evens,’” Clanton said. “And that was it. I was like, ‘Okay.’ It has been like that ever since. There's no question. I don't question whether I should play the evens. She plays the odds; I play the evens. And we try to make the most of it.
“So far, we have.”