I love this part of the year. The women actually start playing again this week, but after year after year of watching the start of the golf season, I am not doing the “same game, same faces” thing. That’s one of the beauties of golf. It’s never the same, and ven if the faces are on some weeks, they have changed, grown, developed. And, at regular intervals, new faces stir the pot. If you’re paying attention at all, golf doesn’t give you the opportunity to get bored. Nothing is ever just like it was last year. One of the great things about the start of the women’s tour is that they all visit Nassau in the Bahamas. Right there, you know that it’s all good, but this year, everyone seems to have arrived with a new attitude – and not just Patti LaBelle is saying it.
Of course, we know who Stacy Lewis is. She’s a former, and never too far from number one in the world. Stacy enters the fourth round on Sunday at minus 23. That’s about 7 1/2 strokes under per round – who does that, anyway? Just for a dash of extra panache, Lewis and her new attitude carded two eagles on the back nine in round three. Why did she need a new attitude? To begin with, she’s overcome dreadful stuff to get to the top of her profession, and things have slipped a bit. Number ones who aren’t ready to vacate number one often get a new attitude and come back with a vengeance. Lewis might be ready for vengeance this year.
And why would Lexi Thompson want a new attitude? Because of her putting, that’s why. Lexi knows better than anyone that if you’re not putting, you’re not winning, and she’s had enough of wondering where the short shot is going to go. Everyone on the commentators’ panel is remarking on how smooth her new putting stroke is, and she’s rolling them in left and right, coming in to tie Lewis at 23 under. Speaking of attitude, I’ve followed Thompson around a lot on the tour, and she has that look when things get competitive – one of those “hate to meet her in a dark alley” look. Her competitiveness creates a penetrating atmosphere on the course, and you know she means business.
I don’t know if Gerina Piller has a new attitude or not, but it’s possible that the old one worked just fine, and that she’s just elevating it this year. Gerina comes in after three at 22 under, one stroke back, the poll position to be a challenger on Sunday. The only drag on Brittany Lincicome’s attitude is that she doesn’t believe she’s hitting approaches close enough. Everything else is going just fine.
One more name should be added, even though she sits at minus 15. Nelly Korda is averaging 67s for her first three rounds and no, that’s not Jessica Korda, but her younger sister. The important point here is that Nelly Korda is a rookie, but she’s not acting like one. Rookies, the competitive ones at least, have an attitude all their own, like a deep belief that there’s nothing and no one to be afraid of. So, everyone in the Bahamas for the start of the LPGA year is either revived, rejuvenated, or just new and eager.
Then, of course, there’s Nassau itself. Take the Norwegian Sky, or some such ship into the narrow harbor, and there you are. Straight ahead and slightly to the left are the hotels that resemble Walt Disney’s palace, a line of palmed shore to the left (excuse me, to port) that looks like Jack Sparrow ought to be there, and some really gorgeous golf acreage. When I’ve had the pleasure of being there, it didn’t do my attitude any harm, either. Welcome to the new golf year, courtesy of the LPGA. It has a new attitude.