Considering Ariya Jutanugarn is on the verge of being crowned No. 1 in the women’s world rankings, it would be understandable if Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., might have felt a wee bit out of her league in Saturday’s third round of the Manulife LPGA Classic.
“Before I would’ve said probably be intimidating to play with Ariya, but I don’t know, I mean, she’s super nice,” said Marchand, who usually plays on the Symetra Tour development circuit.
“I think it’s one of those things. Like I want to believe that I can play here and I don’t want believe that anybody is so far away from me,” she said.
“It was kind of cool because I feel like I played with her. Obviously, she played a little better, but in general, we were pretty on par. I think that’s an awesome confidence booster for me. It’s good,” she added.
Jutanugarn, who shot a seven-under 65 playing alongside the Canadian, isn’t the only big name Marchand is hanging with going into the final round at Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ont.
After putting up her second 67 of the tournament in Saturday’s third round, Marchand is tied for ninth, leaving her in a top 10 that not only includes Jutanugarn, but also leader Lexi Thompson, Suzann Pettersen and, from a Canadian perspective, Hamilton’s Alena Sharp, who is tied for fourth at 14 under.
Marchand goes into Sunday’s finale five shots back of Thompson. Being in such a position is something Marchand says she can get used to, noting the difference between the LPGA and Symetra Tours.
“I would love to have another opportunity to play out here. Being full time on Symetra, obviously, the two Canadian events at home, I want to try to get sponsor exemption into, but if I could get any more experience, that would be awesome,” said Marchand.
“It’s kind of nice, actually, to have somebody cheering for you because usually (on the Symetra Tour), it’s just like your host family and two people on the side, or your mom that came and traveled to see you,” she said.
“So, it’s actually kind of nice to have some support, even though I know I’m close to home and that’s a big deal too, in the sense of having more fans,” said Marchand.
“The conditions of the course. They’re just a lot firmer, faster. You can’t pin hunt out here and stuff like that, which on the Symetra Tour, if you get a softer course, that’s possible,” she added.
There’s also a big difference in finances.
“You pretty much got to be top 10 every week to be actually making anything on top of your expenses. Like, you have $500 off the top for the entry fee and some of the smaller purses, like $100,000, you might even just make the cut and still not make your money on the $500,” she said.
“So you really do have to be playing solid to make the money. I have host families. I drive. If you saw my car right now, you would be shocked. I live out of it. Your host families cook you dinner. You cut costs as much as possible,” said Marchand.
“Like, last year I had an okay year, but I still profited a little bit because I tried to like cut my costs really low, so it’s possible, but it’s not great living,” she added.￼
Marchand will tee off Sunday at 12:10 p.m. local time with American Jackie Stoelting and the question isn’t so much if she’ll be nervous. It’s more a case of what kind of nerves?
“I think they’re good nerves,” said Marchand.
“I felt like I would probably be nervous today and I actually felt a lot more comfortable than I expected. I think that’s a good sign for (Sunday),” she said.
“I think there will obviously be a little bit. Like I said, I’m just going to try to enjoy it. Honestly, I mean, my goal was to make the cut. Obviously my goal is higher, but I just really wanted to put four solid rounds together,” she added.
“If I can do that, then I’m going to be happy and take the experience as a win,” she said.