I'm finally making my LPGA debut as a 34-year-old rookie the
name of this column couldn't be more appropriate, because after
12 long years of trying to get onto the LPGA tour, I'm finally
getting my shot this season. When I tee it up for the first time
in 2000 at this week's Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open, I'll be
one of the oldest rookies on the tour. I began my quest back in
1987, when I first entered Q school as a 21-year-old fresh out
of the University of Texas. Now I'm 34 and a veteran of the
Asian tour, the Futures tour and other mini-tours too numerous
to mention. I've won seven times, but my average annual income
over the last 11 years has been less than $20,000.
I might have earned my card a decade ago except for a mental
fumble that bothers me to this day. In 1989 I went to the final
stage of Q school with my confidence at an alltime high. I had
won a Futures event the week before and was totally focused on
getting my card. Too focused, as it turned out. I forgot to
register for the event.
The tournament was at Sweetwater Country Club in Houston, where I
had played many times in college. Because I knew my way around, I
went in the pro shop entrance without checking in at the
registration desk in the clubhouse. I was practicing on the range
when fellow golfer Michele Redman asked me if I had registered.
"Please say yes," she said. I was scared to death so I ran to
the tournament office and tried begging and pleading to no avail.
I was disqualified from the event before play began and beat
myself up about it for years.
I had to let go of my dream to finally break through. I took a
job as a rep for a golf-luggage company last year, caddied for
Rocky Thompson and Jim Ferree on the Senior tour, and got in
shape. With lower expectations, I got out of my own way long
enough at Q school to earn my conditional card by four strokes.
As Blanche Dubois said in A Streetcar Named Desire, I've always
depended on the kindness of strangers. I'm indebted to many
people for their support and sponsorship. Now it's time I pay
DePaulo is a nonexempt member for the 2000 season.
COLOR PHOTO: DARREN CARROLL DePaulo caddied while waiting for another shot at her tour card.