WINTER HAVEN, FLORIDA | The 2021 LPGA Tour season left Lindy Duncan scratching her head. The 8-year veteran made 13 cuts in 19 starts and finished the year ranked 70th in scoring average, needing just 71.38 strokes per round. While her best finish was a T-29 at the Meijer LPGA Classic, she still managed to make a decent amount of money – totaling $104,311 in official earnings, not a ton of cash but enough to keep the lights on and the rent paid. In all, Duncan didn’t think it was a bad year. But then she saw the 2022 LPGA Tour Priority List.
“I only missed six cuts but when you don't have top-80 status, you don't get into the Asia events,” she said. “I didn't qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open so I only played maybe three majors. I don't think I made any of those cuts so that was kind of what killed me.
“It doesn't look like I'm gonna get into LOTTE or any of those. So by the time I would maybe get into some, it would be such a small amount of events that you would have to finish top-five to continue on.”
At 31 years old and with no guaranteed LPGA starts, a lot of players would’ve started to consider their station in life, re-thinking whether or not it was worth the time, money and energy to keep after a game that is only getting younger with each passing year. But the imperturbable Duncan ain’t no quitter. She decided to play a full Epson Tour schedule in 2022, looking to refresh her mind and her game after the stress of trying to keep a card.
“It's nice to try to be a little bit riskier with some of the changes that I want to make and not have so much intense pressure,” Duncan explained. “Last year, on the LPGA, I felt like I had to play perfectly, which isn't true. But it's a very high level of golf so I definitely put that (pressure) on myself and that doesn't make anything easier. I'm going to try to step away from doing that and work on that out here. I'm very excited to be here.”
Through two rounds of the Epson Tour’s season-opening Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, Duncan sits in a tie for sixth, carding 70-72 to kick off the year. Blustery winds pummeled the field on day two from dawn to dusk at the Country Club of Winter Haven so the South Florida native was pleased with her Saturday effort – though she thought her putting could use some work.
“I hit the ball pretty good but the greens, that was where I had my struggle today. It could have actually been a really good score based on how close I was a couple of times,” Duncan said. “A little disappointed in my putting. I never felt quite comfortable with the putter being blown around so much.
“They're really slippery. I'll put my ball down to line it up and sometimes it just won't quite stay like how it normally does because they're just really slippery. So that makes speed difficult and then if you get some downhill putts out here they can go way by.”
While teeing it up on the Epson Tour has been different for Lindy, so has the person who’s been pushing her cart this week. Instead of carrying her own sticks or snagging a local looper with plenty of local knowledge, Duncan has Tina Hyon on the bag who also happens to be Rolex Rankings No. 3 Lydia Ko’s mother. Lindy isn’t a stranger to using a different caddie week-to-week – she made headlines at last year’s Meijer LPGA Classic for giving her bag to a 17-year-old girl at Blythefield – but having Tina along for the ride has been a new experience for the seasoned veteran.
Five shots back may be too far back for Duncan to make a move and win on Sunday. But that really isn’t the point. At this point in her life and her golf career, growth is the name of the game. Lindy just is happy to still have a place to play, a place to keep improving, a place like the Epson Tour where her dreams can still be realized.
“(Younger Lindy) would be unaccepting. And I've had to think about that a lot. I definitely battle with her. I call her “Harsh Lindy”. I battle with that a lot. I just want to be accepting of the way things are because the reality is the reality. I try not to say the word should anymore.
“I think the way you look at things is super important in life and your perspective is really important. Golf is golf and it's crazy. It kind of mirrors life in some ways so you just got to roll with it.”
- Race for the Card