Missing work on Monday. Most people probably won’t be gut-wrenched when their boss calls Sunday night and tells them they won’t be needed in the office the following morning. Especially during this time of year, there is a good chance that snow flurries and slick roads could extend your weekend. If you’re anything like me when I was younger, I sat by the phone and waited for the township to call and declare tomorrow as a snow day. I was superstitious about it. The spoons slept under my pillow and my pajamas were worn inside out. Anything to get out of an extra day of school.
I carried that mindset all the way through college. However, things changed when I turned professional. The first day of the week took on a whole new meaning. I first wrote about it in my blog, Moments before Monday.
Every Monday before an LPGA event, the tour hosts a qualifier. The field in this 18-hole all-or-nothing event is now limited to 48 players vying for two elusive spots in the tournament that week. Players commonly refer to these qualifiers as “two-spotters,” and attempting to get into the field this way as “two-spotting.” I’ve been there before. It’s the way I gained entry into my first two LPGA events.
A good round on Monday and a few good rounds throughout the week could change the trajectory of a player's career. Call it long shots or hopefuls, it is not out of the question. Two LPGA players have received their tour card through Monday qualifying and gone on to win the event - Laurel Keen in 2000 and Brooke Henderson in 2015 at the Cambia Portland Classic. Five players have done the same on the PGA Tour. Most qualifiers will not go on to win the event and earn tour status, but it is still a magical moment when it happens. Last year, Michael Visacki’s video went viral when he Monday qualified and called his dad crying saying, “I made it.”
I’ll never forget the joy I felt when I qualified for my first LPGA Tour event in 2016 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Tears flooded my eyes from emotions I couldn’t even describe. Hearing my dad's voice saying, “you did it” was overwhelming – a simple yet accurate description of the moment. I did it again in 2019 and I hope to follow suit in 2022.
I thought that my first crack at it would be this past Monday. The last full week of January, the LPGA Tour hosts its second event of the season, the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio Golf Club. Living in Jupiter, it’s a short drive down to Boca and an easy Monday qualifier to attend. Entry priority is given first to LPGA members, followed by Epson Tour members based on status. I was in the field for the majority of the entry process until the deadline hit on January 21st when I was bumped to the third alternate. I was disappointed, but there was still a chance I’d be moved into the field. On Sunday, I rose to first alternate.
On Monday morning, I packed up my bags and headed down to Boca Rio knowing there was a chance a player dropped out and I’d be called onto the tee. From 7 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. I sat on the cart path curb watching players warm up. As each tee time approached, I counted the bags on the tee to make sure everyone was there. It was cold, an unseasonable winter chill hitting South Florida. I felt colder as I watched group after group tee off.
At 10:15, the final group got their tee shots airborne. My bag never found its way out of the darkness of my car.
I missed work on Monday.
Disappointment didn’t quite hit the level of deflating. A lot of people would chalk it up as a waste of my time. In my eyes, I don’t see it that way at all. I learned what it feels like to actually miss Monday; to miss the nerves on the first tee; to miss the puzzle of each hole and to miss the pressure putt on 18 to win it all.
To miss an opportunity is to learn the value of the opportunity itself. I imagine there are many girls so focused on making it to Thursday, they forget what a privilege it is to be there on Monday. I’ve found myself as one of those girls before.
This happens in other events too. The desire for success takes away the gratitude for the opportunity. If only in that moment, others could see through the eyes of the alternate.
This doesn’t just apply to the world of golf. We get so focused on where we want to go that we lose appreciation for where we are right now. It’s a challenge to keep that balance, but it’s something I’ll keep in mind as I go throughout this season.
Until the next opportunity comes my way, there will be no spoons under my pillow and the tags on my pajamas won’t be visible. Because after all, some of us are lucky enough to get to show up for work on Monday.