Last year, as an LPGA Tour rookie, Patty Tavatanakit won the ANA Inspiration. In four major starts she made four cuts and logged three top-seven finishes. She made the biggest golf stages look easy.
This year’s major season began much the same way: In her title defense at Mission Hills, Tavatanakit played her way into the final group and finished T4.
“My coach told me that you know how to play golf, so just go out there and play golf,” she said at the time. It all looked and sounded simple.
But professional golf isn’t simple, nor is it easy. Tavatanakit’s start to this summer was a stark reminder of exactly that. She entered the U.S. Women’s Open as one of the favorites but shot 78 on Friday and missed the cut. She set her sights on the KPMG Women’s PGA but missed the cut there, too. Last week she missed the cut at the Evian. Three majors, three MCs. Entering this week’s Women’s Scottish Open, Tavatanakit hadn’t made any LPGA cuts since April. When she shot 76 on Thursday at Dundonald Links, it appeared that missed cut streak would be extended another week.
As golf fans, these are the moments we’re rarely privy to. Tavatanakit could have packed it in, admitted defeat, gone through the motions on Friday and began mental preparation for next week’s Women’s Open. It’s not often we pay attention to those golfers who miss the weekend. It’s less often we consider what those missed weekends mean to them.
Admittedly, things didn’t look good when she bogeyed the first hole on Friday, sending her to five over par at a tournament where the cut would require at least one under. But then Tavatanakit got red-hot. She reeled off five birdies at 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Suddenly she was at even par. She kept a clean card coming home, too, making seven pars plus birdies at 13 and 15 to post a round of six-under 66, good enough to slip one shot inside the cut line.
It was clear immediately after her round just how much her charge had meant. Tavatanakit broke down in a post-round interview, showing visible emotion in describing her battles on and off the course.
“I’ve just been going through so much in life right now and I feel like, to be able to do that today … it was pretty amazing,” she said.
Her two-round total of 142 hardly puts her in contention to win — Lydia Ko is 12 shots ahead, and Tavatanakit is T55 — but that didn’t dampen the importance of making the weekend.
“Walking into shots I didn’t really think about anything,” Tavatanakit said. “I was just really empty and it’s almost a feeling of letting it go and just, y’know, play golf. I really found myself out there and I was having fun.”
Perhaps she has a miraculous weekend charge up her sleeve. But even if she does, it’s not clear that would mean more than Friday’s rally. In a sport as solitary as professional golf, the small victories can mean as much as the big ones.
“You know, when golf’s not going well and your personal life’s not going well it just adds up emotionally,” she concluded. “But to be able to do that today really, really just helped with everything and it’s like a rainbow after a storm and just to see that is just — it’s just very touching.”