Carbondale pro finishes strong at LPGA Championship
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
It would have been easy for Dede Cusimano to give up.
Her hopes of making the cut at this week’s LPGA Championship in Havre de Grace, Md., were all but washed away after a trying opening round Thursday at damp Bulle Rock. The pro from River Valley Ranch in Carbondale bogeyed five of her first nine holes and finished with a 10-over-par 82, the fourth-highest score of the day.
Still, the 49-year-old decided to soldier on in Friday’s second round – likely her last in a major tournament. Cusimano’s persistence was rewarded, as she finished with a 5-over 77.
“I could’ve been depressed and said, ‘Oh well, whatever,'” Cusimano said Friday night. “I didn’t. I looked at my caddy before we went out and said, ‘Let’s go out and have the best 18 holes we can and enjoy every moment of it.'”
By her own admission, Cusimano played defensive golf Thursday. Rain and strong winds pounded the long course, making it difficult to commit to shots. Consequently, her accuracy waned – Cusimano recorded no birdies and had to make eight up-and-downs just to escape with pars.
The pressure of competing in a major – her sixth, but first since 2004’s LPGA Championship – also weighed on her, Cusimano said.
“I remember thinking, ‘God, is it ever going to end?'” she added.
The rain subsided Friday. The sun came out, the fairways firmed and tournament organizers moved up some tee boxes.
Cusimano decided to let her arms relax. She decided to embrace the crowd and the opportunity.
It paid off. Cusimano, who opened on the back nine, parred eight of her first nine holes and was just 1-over at the turn. All told, she hit 14 greens in regulation and missed only one fairway.
She did not three-putt a green in two days.
“I’m extremely proud of myself,” Cusimano said. “I came back today like a trooper.”
Fatigue set in down the stretch, as she bogeyed her 15th and 17th holes. An unlucky bounce cost her two shots at the final hole; her second shot landed in a small ravine where water had gathered, and she chunked the ensuing chip.
Cusimano finished 12 strokes off the cut mark.
Still, she said she treasured her walk up the final fairway – even if it was her last.
“This is probably my last walk. I hate to say that, but I’ll be 50 next week,” said Cusimano, who is slated to play in a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier Monday in Rockville, Md. “Being there with the crowds and the applause, I took it all in.
“I cherished it.”
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.