LET’s Lydia Hall relishes her first US Women’s Open appearance | LPGA
It’s funny how things can change. Two years ago, LET member Lydia Hall was delivering packages for Amazon Prime during the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to make ends meet after golf closed in response to the global health crisis. Now she’s competing in her first US Women’s Open presented by ProMedica, having qualified via a 5-hole playoff with Luna Sobron Galmes at Buckinghamshire Golf Club, an experience that’s been a long time coming for the 34-year-old Welshwoman.
“I probably had about four, maybe five tries,” Hall said. “This time around was a tough day in London at Buckinghamshire Golf Club. We had three or four holes in our second round and I thought I missed a bit. But DT, my caddie, knew what was going on with the score, so we stayed there. Made a great save by 16.17 and birdied 18 to actually enter the playoffs.
“I had a good eight-foot left-to-right putt to win this playoff and get through. Personally, it was really good to punch something like that to earn my spot and nobody had to do a double or anything, so it was really, really good.
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Growing up in Wales, Hall didn’t get into the game until she was 11, attending free junior clinics run by a local club, and meeting her swing coach around the same time. She turned pro at 19, forgoing a few college offers to pursue her dreams on the Ladies European Tour.
In 15 years as a professional, she has won just four victories – the 2012 ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters, the 2016 Welsh National PGA Championship, the 2017 WPGA International Challenge and the 2022 TPS Victoria – the first of which was at Buckinghamshire Golf Club . But it’s the love of the game that keeps her coming back.
“There have been many times where I have questioned it over the last few years, mainly because of the financial situation, the limited number of sponsors in Europe,” Hall explained. “But I have goals, I have ambitions and I’m at a point in my life right now where I’m happy and comfortable in the skin that I have and I just want a lot of success.”
That drive took Hall across the pond and to Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club this week, a place that reminds him of the Woburn Golf Club in the UK, an unusual comparison given the vast difference in climate. While she did venture to the United States for a few Epson Tour events and some warm-weather training during the winter, Hall hasn’t played much golf in the United States, let alone visited the The golf mecca that is Pinehurst.
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“I spoke to one of my close friends, Megan McLaren, who played the LPGA Q-Series here a few years ago. And she said, ‘You have to go to Pinehurst because it’s almost like a massive version of St. Andrews”, which I love and everything in the area revolves around golf. I think it’s something ridiculous like 60 golf courses within a 40 mile radius. And you can tell everyone in this area is crazy about golf. It’s pretty special to have my first US Open in Pine Needles.
And that journey has also taken her to places Hall never imagined she would go, namely BBC Radio Live 5 and the final group of the 2021 Men’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
“I was lucky last year with BBC Radio 5 Live who offered me to cover commentary during the Men’s Open at Royal St George’s. Without a shadow of a doubt I stuck my name and I said yes please I would like to walk the 18th fairway We had the final group myself alongside Iain Carter an amazing pen pal.
“The experience I gained from this alone and the feeling of stepping into the 18th hole gave me goosebumps. It was amazing to walk alongside Louis Oosthuizen and Colin Morikawa. I have the lucky to have me offered the job again this year at the 150th Open in St. Andrews. It’s going to be amazing to be home to golf and cover that for the men.
Rest assured there will be no daydreams of the Swilcan Bridge or the Road Hole dancing through Hall’s head this week. She started with a 2 of 73 on Thursday, an average start that will have her grinding to make the weekend. But Hall has something many don’t – perspective – and while she’s striving to do her best at the second major of the year, she has realistic expectations for herself and her game.
“I would really like to have a top 10 and all that stuff, but we’re not going to have positions on our minds or scores. I’m just going to hit as many fairways and greens as possible to give myself as many shots. birdie and par opportunities.
“Two years ago I was driving in my car delivering Amazon Prime packages just to make ends meet due to COVID, limited tournaments, lack of sponsorship, so now playing the US Open for 10 million dollars is pretty good.”
It’s funny how things change. And Lydia Hall – a companion, jack-of-all-trades, relative stranger – is a perfect reminder that they call it an “open” for a reason.
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