The tears were a surprise. Up or down, good or bad, the one thing you can always count on from Patty Tavatanakit is the imprimatur of cool. She is the Steve McQueen of women’s golf: confident, even-keel, and always full of swagger and mystique. So, when Patty T let the tears flow after a stellar 66 on Friday at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, a round that included seven birdies in her final 17 holes (five in a row on the front nine) to claw her way to 2-under par, everyone who saw the emotion was, at turns, taken aback and deeply touched.
The reaction was understandable. This is the first cut Patty has made since April, the biggest slump last year’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year has ever experienced. Early in the year, she had a couple of top-5 finishes, a T4 at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony and another T4 at the Chevron Championship where she was defending champion. But she arrived in Ayrshire having played four events, including three majors, since the first of May and in that time, she hadn’t broken 70 until Friday at Dundonald Links. Even then, it took some doing.
Patty opened with a bogey on her first hole to drop to 5-over par for the week, well outside the projected cutline. Then, after three pars, including one at the getable par-5 third, something clicked, and she went on a tear. Birdies at 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 got her back to even par. It still wasn’t enough, but it was the best stretch of holes she’d had in months.
Two more birdies on the back nine followed by three pars to close out the round and Patty T signed for 10 shots better on Friday than her first-round score, and her lowest 18-hole total since March 8 in her home country of Thailand.
“Just so much in life right now,” Tavatanakit said through more tears after her round. “I feel like being able to do that today (in) these conditions… this is my job, it's my career. I don't know what I did out there, it was pretty amazing to come back. I didn't feel like I was going to do that this morning. But you know, it's in me and I found it today.”
She was most proud of the trust she had on each shot.
“Just pure commitment,” she said. “I didn't over-think the shot. I didn't think about anything. I was just really empty. Just the feeling of letting it go and playing golf, I really found myself out there and I was having fun.”
It’s easy to forget that the athletes we admire for their skills are human beings with lives away from sport. Sometimes, it takes an honest player like Patty to remind us.
“When your golf is not going well and your personal life is not going well, it just adds up emotionally,” she said late Friday afternoon. “But to be able to do that today, really just helped with everything. It's like a lull after a storm. Just to see that – it’s very touching.”
Looking ahead, she hopes to draw off the pride and emotions that got her into the weekend.
“It's good to walk off the course with a 66 and making the cut after a rough opening round. But there's still some work to do out there on the weekend,” Patty said. “I'll probably take it day-by-day from now on and see how it goes, because I feel like I found myself out there. I don't know if I'm going to be able to repeat that. I just have to stay humble and remind myself that everything was just a moment in time, whatever I'm feeling.”