There are two sides to the end of the season for professional golfers – cruise control and crunch time. Some players already locked in their LPGA Tour cards for the following season, while others had to give it everything they have and leave it all on the course. Sprinting towards the Ascensus Race for the Card finish line, 2022 Epson Tour rookie Amelia Garvey’s off-season plans were ultimately determined by her final putt.
As the Epson Tour season closed in early October, Garvey sat on the bubble of being exempt into Q-Series. She needed a top finish at the Epson Tour Championship to put her in the top 35 of the Ascensus Race for the Card and thus automatically qualify for the last leg of the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. The University of Southern California graduate finished T11. She walked off the course oblivious to the fact that she was projected to accomplish her goal.
“I had a lot of pressure that week,” said Garvey. “My last three weeks [of the Epson Tour season], I knew that I was sitting outside the top 35 and obviously wanted to be exempt into the final stage. So, to play really well that last week and for it all of it to work out just felt weird almost. I was just glad that the season was over, and I still had a shot at getting my card this week.”
After walking off the final hole at LPGA International’s Jones Course, Garvey learned of her projected rank in the Ascensus Race for the Card. Getting carried away with excitement, the New Zealand native forgot that she still had one thing left to do to solidify her ranking – sign her scorecard. Once she finalized her 17-under week and all scores were tallied, Garvey officially crossed the Ascensus Race for the Card finish line at No. 33.
Since her nerve-wracking finish in Daytona Beach, Florida, Garvey has slowed down for some much-needed rest and relaxation. The 22-year-old returned to her home in Christchurch, New Zealand instead of heading to Stage II in November, a decision that was vital to her preparation for the next two weeks in Alabama.
“It was really nice just to take a couple of weeks off and refresh myself going into this,” Garvey said. “The game is feeling really good right now. Hopefully I'll take a little bit of my momentum from those last couple of tournaments into this, but at the end of the day it's more just play solid golf. And it's eight rounds, so really staying patient and knowing that there's a lot of golf to be played.”
The Kiwi returned to the United States carrying a piece of home with her. Instead of having her hype-man boyfriend, Xander White, outside the ropes cheering her on this week, she has her cousin, Jamie Tipper, on the bag. While Garvey says that White tends to live and die on every shot right there along with her, Tipper is a golfer and knows both the game and Garvey, “inside and out,” a helpful attribute in a caddie with so much on the line. The USC alumna says his positivity will help her “fight on” during the tedious eight rounds.
“I feel so comfortable with him,” said Garvey. “He has caddied for me since I was probably 13 (or) 14 just in amateur events and stuff. He knows me so well. He knows when to talk and when not to and, also, he is such a big believer in me.”
Garvey will not only have that unwavering support from her caddie, but she’ll also be leaning on self-confidence derived from her rookie season on the Epson Tour. Going up against some of the game’s most talented players each week and having success in doing so – Garvey carded three top-10 finishes this season, including a tie for fourth at the Copper Rock Championship presented by KSLSPORTS.COM – has more than prepared her for this pivotal moment in her professional golf career.
“The strength of field is just as good on the Epson Tour as it is here,” said Garvey. “I think this week is all going to be about mindset. Everyone has a good enough game. It's just going to be who can kind of forget about that end result, just go and play golf and try and not put too much pressure on knowing that there's a (LPGA Tour) card at the end of it potentially.”