I was in Havre de Grace, Maryland at the Bulle Rock Golf Club last week watching Bernadette at the LPGA championship. The good news is she made her first cut in a major; the bad news is she got worse every day: tied for 10th after day one at minus 2, for 28th after day two at even par, for 48th after day 3 at +4, and way down on the list after day 4 at +9. Still, this was an improvement. She knows now that she can put herself in contention.
I walked the course with her, inside the ropes on Wednesday, outside Thursday through Sunday. By the end I was exhausted. A lot of the Force gets sucked out of you watching your kid trying to succeed. In addition, Maryland's heat and humidity was as bad as Florida's.
The course, a Pete Dye design, was gorgeous, every hole a pleasure to behold. The rough was thick. Go into it and your chance of making bogey was about 90%.
Bern played a practice round with Michelle Wie, who came in second. In spite of the prodigious distances the TV folks attribute to Wie off the tee (sounds funny, doesn't it?), Bern found herself no more than 10 to 15 yards behind this very tall girl (around 6 feet). It didn't seem that many other girls were talking to her (Wie) so Bern was careful to say hi and compliment her on her play each time she saw her. There's a lot of resentment over the fact (most of it justified) that this 15 year old is being invited to major tournaments without having to qualify, but they need to keep in mind it's not Wie's fault. It's the LPGA's decision, and I figure what they're doing is simply a marketing strategy, for the present and the future. Physically and mentally precocious, she generates media interest, which in turn generates viewer interest. Follow the money.
Saturday night we went to Price's restaurant and cracked Chesapeake Bay blue crabs with a wooden hammer. I thought Bern might be put off by the labor involved, but she got into it and now has a new favorite seafood. There really is nothing like it. Crabs go extremely well with lots of beer. We also became addicted to cream of crab soup.
After her round Sunday, we needed to get to the Baltimore airport to try to catch an earlier flight than the one originally scheduled for 8:15, getting into Orlando at 10:15. She had to get up the next day at the crack of dawn to do sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open. An earlier flight would give her an extra hour or so of sleep. She could have tried to qualify in Baltimore, but that meant a practice round she didn't have time for during tournament week. She wanted to play on her home course. We stopped at a MacDonald's on the way out of town, but I couldn't find my wallet. Panic sets in. We go back to the golf course, where I figured I'd lost it in the parking lot, but nothing. Back to the restaurant where we ate breakfast, nothing. The motel. Nothing. Back to the golf course and, of course, nothing. Now I have no picture ID except the badge issued by the LPGA. Would they let me on a plane? The airline said yes, but that I would probably be subjected to intense security. So we got our MacDonald's and streaked to Baltimore, paid the fee to change flights, and after passing through the metal detector I was pulled aside for that special security attention they had promised, a protocol invented by some moron somewhere, absolutely guaranteed not to catch terrorists. One ought to at least look like a terrorist, or be related to a terrorist, or have helped a terrorist cross the street, or attended a madrassas, or have exchanged emails with Timothy McVeigh or some such, but no, our government in its concern for our safety now has in its possession more sets of deadly fingernail clippers liberated from law-abiding citizens than there are Howard Hugheses to dispense them to.
The fellow administering the wanding and the pat-down was very polite, but when he got to the part where had to, absolutely according to the rules had to, run the back of his hand across my privates, I asked him if he enjoyed his work. He didn't answer.
The newer, earlier flight was, of course, late getting in, so for our trouble we ended up saving maybe 30 minutes. Still, she got up the next day on too little sleep and, with Dad on the bag, played her 36 holes, shot 74-69 (the latter round a nearly flawless performance, the pro in her taking command), one under par for the two rounds, and tied for the second of only four spots available. She will be going to the U.S. Women's Open for the second year in a row. It will be played next week in Denver, Colorado at the legendary Cherry Hills Golf Club.
The next morning after qualifying she hopped on another plane and headed for Rochester, New York (Pittsford, actually) to play in this week's tournament. I don't know how she does it. I'm tired.