Sherri Steinhauer watched her tee shot on the first hole at the second round of the LPGA SBS Open at the Turtle Bay resort.
Steinhauer having more fun
As Sherri Steinhauer was recalling fond memories of coaching Morgan Pressel at the 2002 Junior Solheim Cup, her former pupil was over in the corner of the room text-messaging friends back home.
"Did you hear all the nice things I just said about you?" Steinhauer asked.
Pressel kept working her fingers, never hearing the question.
"Huh?" Pressel finally said, when realizing all eyes were upon her.
"Just like a kid," Steinhauer said.
It was at this Junior Solheim Cup that Captain Steinhauer took a long, hard look at her own game. Successful enough through the years with five LPGA Tour victories, including a major, Steinhauer knew if these young women were the future, she'd quickly be in the past if she didn't adjust.
The following year on tour, she managed only eight cuts in 21 tournaments, before coming out in 2004 and ending her five-year drought with a win at the Sybase Classic. Last year, she captured her second major at the Women's British Open, giving the 44-year-old a new belief system.
"I was about ready to quit the game," Steinhauer said. "Through the years, I've worked with Manuel de la Torre. He's one of the greatest coaches of all time. He's done so many good things for me. After working for him for about 18 years, it was just time for a change. I made the change, and now I'm working with Hank Johnson.
"The reason I did it at that point, I was either going to quit the game or I was going to take one last-ditch effort. I worked really hard and made some swing changes and see what happens. At this point in my career, hey, if it doesn't work out, then I'm done."
Considering she enters today's final round of the SBS Open tied for the lead with Pressel and Paula Creamer, who was also a member of that Solheim Cup squad that whipped the Europeans 17-7, things couldn't be working out much better.
"It's just given me kind of another life out here," Steinhauer said. "It is more darn fun playing with these younger players. I saw how far the younger players were all hitting it. No way was I going to be able to keep up and compete with them. When I swing it right, I've definitely gained distance. I may not keep up with Morgan, but I'm not as far behind as I used to be."
As for her attitude these days, Steinhauer prefers to smile than cry. She kept it light all afternoon with Pressel and plans to do more of the same today.
"When I first came out, it was do or die," Steinhauer said. "It was so grueling. I put so much pressure on myself. At this point, I enjoy the game so much. I love competing. It's what I live for."
Winning is also a big part of the fun. Steinhauer will be looking for her eighth victory in the 22 years she has plied her trade. Pressel is still searching for win No. 1 and Creamer is out to erase a winless 2006 after taking home two titles as a rookie in 2005.
You would have to think it means more to the youngsters than to the veteran. They will be dead serious coming down the stretch, while Steinhauer may not be able to match their intensity. But experience is definitely on her side.
"Whatever happens tomorrow, I'm going to go out there and do the best I can," Steinhauer said. "But it's not going to be do or die for me. It's another day of golf. I obviously want to play great tomorrow. It's just a different mentality I took than when I was younger.
"I feel like every day is a bonus because I was contemplating quitting the game. Now I have a chance at winning. I'll be smiling. I'll have fun with it. The point is to go out tomorrow and take the situation and do as well as I can with it."
Amateurs out: Former Hilo resident Kimberly Kim won't be around for today's final round. Neither will fellow amateur Taylore Karle, who was paired with Tadd Fujikawa in Wednesday's pro-am round.
Kim followed her 1-over 73 on Thursday with a horrendous 7-over 79 that left her in a tie for 116th at 8-over 152. She will not be taking part in the Fields Open next week and returns to her new home in Arizona a little disappointed with her performance.
Just like Thursday, she opened the day with a bogey at the first. She also had three double bogeys and two more bogeys before the round was through. Kim countered with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, but it wasn't enough to offset her 40 on the front side. Karle didn't fare much better. The fellow 16-year-old from Arizona shot a 3-over 75 to finish tied for 104th at 7-over 151.
Fields Open set: Only one golfer who didn't play in this week's SBS Open will be in the Fields Open, which begins play at the Ko Olina Resort on Thursday. That one player is Liselotte Neumann, who will be making her debut for the 2007 season.
Much like the SBS Open, the field is very strong for the second event on the LPGA Tour. Nine of the top 10 money winners from a year ago will be vying for the first-place check in the $1.2 million event.
The defending champion, Meena Lee, didn't play well at this week's tournament. She missed the cut, thanks in part to an opening-round 76. She came back with a 2-over 74 yesterday, but it wasn't enough to keep her within the cut line of 3-over 147.
Past champs gone: The Arnold Palmer-designed course took it out on defending champion Joo Mi Kim and 2005 winner Jennifer Rosales. Kim opened with a less than sizzling 77. She followed that with a 2-over 74 that left her at 7 over for the tournament, some three shots short of the cut.
Rosales, who has suffered through numerous injuries the last two years, didn't play well, either. She opened with a 7-over 79, but played much better yesterday with a 2-under 70 that left her one shot shy of the cut.
Inside the numbers: Despite the late breezes, the scoring average still held steady and true at 73.576. The hardest hole was the par-4 17th with a scoring average of 4.335 There were 15 birdies, 79 pars, 27 bogeys, 14 double bogeys and two listed as others. The easiest hole for the second straight day was the par-5 third with a scoring average of 4.583. There were three eagles, 61 birdies, 64 pars, eight bogeys and one double.