Law Wins in Williamsburg

Bronte Law, British newcomer, Scores First Win

Maintaining a championship golf career entails more than chasing the veterans. In the ever-evolving pro tours, someone is always sneaking up from behind. The new threats come from everywhere and anywhere. One minute, Toronto is breathing down one’s neck, and a nine later, it’s Thailand or New Zealand. In my awareness of LPGA dynamics, women’s golf of Britain has been symbolized by the arrival of Charley Hull. Of course, it would be ridiculous to think she’s the only one. It’s a golfing country, and ground zero for the game’s ancient traditions. Bronte Law, a 24-year old star with a similarly stellar amateur career to Hull’s, has emerged for her first win. She took the Pure Silk at Williamsburg, Virginia with a three-under 67 on the final round.

Law must feel a lot better about this week than last, although the former UCLA star did pull off quite a feat. From 10 strokes back, she rallied her way into a playoff. This week, she didn’t let herself get into that position, but it wasn’t the pretty victory she might have preferred. The Sunday round provided a clinic in the beauty and necessity of the recovery game. She was all over the place, but still managed to stand on the green putting for birdie or par. A fifteen foot putt on 16 for birdie didn’t hurt matters one bit, although Law described the day in general as “a grind.” Winning when one’s game is ragged is a testament to a good set of nerves and a lot of concentrated preparation. It should be a sign of future success as well, the ability to minimize catastrophe, or even to turn it into an asset with patience. All those Curtis Cups and collegiate championships likely played a part in that. An obvious feature of Law’s first win is that she won the tournament wire-to-wire. No one puts together four winning rounds on a fluke, and the game doesn’t sit still and remain obedient through a regimen of 72 holes.
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To me, there seems to be a different way of expressing determination in every part of the world. Where the central Europeans are workmanlike and often granite-faced, British stars are particularly ferocious in their demeanor while on the hunt. Their Canadian counterparts, especially, Brooke Henderson, strike me a little bit the same. Hearing Law’s name for the first time,  I couldn’t decide whether to imagine a 19th century author, or the new gunslinger in town. After the Pure Silk, I’m leaning toward the latter.

The U.S. Women’s Open is coming up this week, and for a newcomer, winning the tournament of the week before is a game-changer. If Law had succumbed to her problems on the final nine, she would enter that major as an amateur star looking for her first signs of traction in the big leagues.  In her nearly three years as a new pro, she has won a little over $800,000, but that is more about whether one can make a living in a hard industry – one question settled. However, it doesn’t yet address the question of whether a player is destined to be excellent among the excellent. It is the question between journeyman and owner of a large trophy case, not to mention a name. Law can begin the Open not only as a winner on tour, but last week’s winner, following a week of great play before that.

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