WILLIAMSBURG, Va. | The rock band Bon Jovi used to belt the lyrics “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” in the early 90s. Of course, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora also slept past noon during their touring days. And almost never did the band play on four hours of sleep a night for the better part of a week.
Wei-Ling Hsu, the 26-year-old Taiwanese player in her sixth season on the LPGA Tour, doesn’t know much about big-haired stadium rock. But she can certainly relate to some of the words Jon wrote. “Sometimes I sleep / Sometimes it’s not for days.”
“I’ve only slept I will say 20 hours in the last five days,” Hsu said after going out in the morning at Kingsmill Resort and firing a bogey-free, 5-under par 66. “Since I didn't get much sleep, I didn't really expect much this week. Just try to sleep and relax and play golf.” Then she laughed, shook her head and said, “I mean, I’m so tired.”
Hsu is not an insomniac. Far from it. She loves a good nap as much as the next person. But like many travelers, sleeping on airplanes is a problem for her. So, the 8,500-mile trip from Chonburi and the Honda LPGA Thailand to Williamsburg and the Pure Silk Championship was always going to be tough. However, Hsu had even more stress in the middle. Last Thursday, she played a 36-hole qualifier in Arizona for the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I actually flew into L.A., picked up my mom and then drove all the way from L.A. to Phoenix,” she said. “I got in on Wednesday, no, no, no, on Tuesday, and then had a practice round on Wednesday.”
We’ve all been there. Days run together. Eyes feel as dry as rice paper. Every step is an effort. “I didn’t really play a practice round,” Hsu said of her prep for the qualifier. “I was just too tired. I couldn’t even swing. So, I just got a cart and drove around. Didn’t even chip and putt. I just looked at the course. I’d never been there, but I was so tired I didn’t want to leave that golf cart. I was just like, ‘I can't do it.’ And I needed to play 36 holes the next day, so I told myself that it was okay just to drive around.”
Turns out it was 37 holes. Hsu was in a playoff for the final alternate spot. She made a birdie putt on the first extra hole to earn the alternate spot and will be waiting anxiously in San Francisco in a couple of weeks to see if she is in the field at Olympic Club.
But the travel odyssey wasn’t over. “I had a redeye flight that night, which was like 11:05 pm or something from Phoenix to Charlotte,” she said. “So, by the time I got home I was like, ‘Oh, my God,’ because I’d only slept two hours.”
A couple of days on the east coast where she tried to catch up and she was back in the car to Kingsmill.
“I think I just need to recognize that you need breaks and you have to tell yourself, ‘Hey, you are tired,’ and not be like, ‘Oh, I’ve still got a tournament going on, I need to practice, hit like a thousand balls on the range.’ I feel like if I can sleep well, I can hit more quality shots and have a clear mind, recognizing that (sleep) is helping my body relax and recover.”
Low expectations might have played a role in Hsu’s great opening around. “I just didn't really set any goals,” she said. “I had a good experience in Thailand and Singapore because when we go overseas, it's really hot and high humidity, so after 18 holes you are always hot and sweating. You can't really do anything on the driving range or putting green (because of the heat), so I tried to take a break and relax more after my rounds. It felt pretty good. I think I’ve learned from that experience and I’m carrying it forward to this week.
So, what is her game plan for the rest of the week in Virginia?
“Sleep,” she said with a smile and shoulders that sagged in relief, proving once again that the old adage holds true: Be wary of the weary. For they are capable of surprising things.