It was only about three years ago that Samantha Richdale was unsure about her decision to try her luck as a touring professional, despite some impressive credentials.
Richdale had won 10 times at Illinois State, was a three-time winner of the Missouri Valley Conference Championship and a 2004 Academic All-American. In 2005, she was Illinois State’s female athlete of the year.
Back home in British Columbia, she won that province’s Amateur title in 2004 and was runner-up the next year, when she went on to win the Royale Cup national women’s championship, but there was still that lingering doubt.
“My first year out of college, I was like, `I hope this is for me (so) let’s give it a try and see what happens,’” recalled the Kelowna golfer, who turns 25 next week. “The last two years, everything has fallen into place.”
That includes her first win on the Duramed Futures Tour, which came at the 2008 Gettysburg Championship, and she followed that up last weekend with a victory at the Louisiana Pelican Classic in Lafayette, La.
Things appear to be coming together away from the course as well as Richdale says she is working nicely with her swing coach Craig Harmon and caddie Paul Maggiore.
Recently, she took a putting lesson with short game guru Marius Filmalter and says that played a big role in her final round 66 last weekend in Louisiana.
“It was really a breakthrough because the first two tournaments, I put myself into contention to have a chance of winning and I just couldn’t get the third day in there,” said Richdale, who finished top 15 in both tournaments despite her final round woes, which changed dramatically on the weekend.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “Everything just kind of fell together.”
The 66 she shot on Sunday has a way of curing the final round blues, but it was more than the number as Richdale recorded it under some trying circumstances after Saturday was washed out, except for two holes in Richdale’s case, due to a saturated course.
Tee times were also pushed back on Sunday for what was now a 36-hole tournament.
“It’s just a lot of waiting,” said Richdale of the rain delay. “I really tried to not think about golf for that long. I just sat with my roommate and Paul and watched TV,” said Richdale, who recorded birdies on two of her first four holes and bogeyed the seventh hole.
She pulled into a tie for the lead with an eagle on the par five ninth hole, on which she drained a shot from a fairway bunker 213 yards out with a hybrid. Richdale then took a birdie on the 11th and clinched it with two more on 13 and 15.
With her final round woes apparently behind her now, Richdale says she took a lot out of reading the book “Fearless Golf” by sports psychologist Gio Valiante.
“I really liked it,” she said. “It’s helped me focus a lot more on my targets, instead of worrying too much about where I don’t want to go.”
One place she does want to go is the LPGA Tour, where she holds non-exempt status that could get her into some events, but she’s more concerned at this point in playing well on the LPGA’s development circuit, which could earn her a full-time card on the big tour next year.
So, she may try to get into one or two LPGA events, including the upcoming Corning Classic, but her focus right now is the Futures Tour, which may cause her to miss the CN Canadian Women’s Open in Calgary, an event she says she would love to play in early September.
However, her most recent win put Richdale in second spot on the Futures Tour money list and if she stays in that position, she would need to be at the season-ending ILoveNY Championship in Albany, N.Y., which is the same weekend as the Canadian event, to accept her full-time card on the LPGA Tour.
B.C. ASSOCIATIONS HAVE THEIR SAY: The Royal Canadian Golf Association and the National Golf Course Owners Association aren’t the only groups to approach the federal government about its recreation infrastructure funding that was announced in the most recent federal budget.
The B.C. Allied Golf Associations also penned a letter to International Trade Minister Stockwell Day and British Columbia MPs on behalf of the Golden Golf Club, which sought some funding for a new course it is putting in. The letter expressed the associations’ concerns that golf may be excluded from the funding.
Signing the letter were representatives of the B.C. Golf Association, regional office of the NGCOA, PGA of British Columbia, Canadian Society of Club Managers and B.C. Golf Superintendents Association.