Bahamas – a New Year

Bahamas Golf Surprising Start for New Season

I love this part of the year, because in addition to an abiding love for the game of golf, my appetite for it is refreshed and new. With the Northwest snows, I haven’t played for a long time, but can live vicariously through the LPGA as they walk around in total climatic comfort in Nassau. More specifically, that means Paradise Island, across from where the cruise ships dock. Good stories already abound with players taking occupation of the several luxury hotels around the course, and one staying with friends on a 120 foot mega yacht on the other side – sigh.

As for golf, the new year means one thing for the psyche, which in general welcomes the coming out of hibernation, and the body, which isn’t quite as sure. Of course, the pros don’t come out of winter the way we do. Some of us sit in our slippers and watch the weather report, and when it breaks for the first time, we grab the clubs and run out to the first tee entirely unprepared to play anything that requires getting off the couch. That is not only, for many of us, a serious case of magical thinking, but injury heaven as well.

charley 1Unlike us, the pros don’t face the possibility of injury because they’re stupid. They continue to prepare during the off season, practice and play golf a lot.  But, the human spine and attending muscles don’t always like that. Getting out for the first tournament, even if it is in the Bahamas, can be different for 45 than it is for 18, and as it is often goes, the first half of the tournament s going to the youth, in most cases.
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The drama has already begun for leading players. Inbee Park has withdrawn after shooting one of the worst rounds she has probably shot since the age of thirteen. Her score of 80 was plagued by relentless back pain, and it didn’t seem that the Bahaman sun was going to mend things in time. Park figures to be out for around a month. Michelle Wie has also  had an ironic turn of events, small to non-golfers, but lethal to a pro. Fresh off a rash of injuries that she had thought might be behind her now, she addressed the ball on 16, only to be stung by a bee, in the palm of her hand. The prognosis is unknown, but being stung by a bee, in Wie’s case, fits more neatly into what we in the west describe as being “snakebit.”

Several of the veteran standouts, including a recent winner in Jessica Korda, took mini-vacations, at least on the scorecard. Korda came in with a 74, Stacey Lewis at 73, and Cristie Kerr at 77. That’s a healthy step toward bowing out of the way for other stars to take over this week. Although a more experienced Catriona Matthews is a co-leader heading into 3 on the third round, Charley Hull, Alison Lee, Megan Khang and Haru Nomura represent the wave of youth at -8. If they fold, there is another group at -7 that will be glad to take over.
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Hull finished the second round bogey-free, and has 18 holes in front of her to make a move, depending on how she sees it, whether an opportunity or an obstacle course. Both are true. Alison Lee is, I believe, in her first Bahamas event. For her, it’s an early spring break from her studies at UCLA, where she is enrolled in four classes.  It could be a fun return when colleagues ask what she did with her weekend.charley 2

Yes, the drama begins again. Perhaps the mask of tragedy and the mask of comedy are too extreme a metaphor, but good fortune and misfortune will be waiting for everyone, from a week in the Bahamas to the northern events later in the golf year. Still, beginning in the Bahamas, on Paradise Island, could be a lot worse – – – unless of course your back hurts – – – or a bee takes a dislike to you.
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