DAYTONA BEACH, FLA | We’ve felt the whipping wind in Kansas, seen the dancing dunes in Oregon, absorbed the pouring rain in Utah and rolled with the tide in Alabama. This week, we return to where it all began – the sunshine state.
Somewhere between our first and last stop in Florida, we have visited 12 different states and torn up turf at 20 different golf courses. A year's worth of work comes down to one event – The Epson Tour Championship.
For some it may have been a year of “what was” while others fight to finish strong in a year of “what could have been.” The top three players on the money list, Xiaowen Yin, Lucy Li, and Linnea Strom, have all solidified their spot on the LPGA next year. The seven other players in the top ten will have to defend their spot from those creeping just below.
There’s more on the line than just 10 LPGA Tour Cards. Finishing top 35 on the money list will get you an exemption to Q Series – a two-week event with 45 more cards on the line. Other players are fighting for spots in the top 80 to solidify full status for next year's Epson Tour season.
There’s so much on the line, but we’re playing with a less than full tank of gas. The odometers on our cars only tell part of the story. Eight months of travel, tournaments and take-out food take a toll on you. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from my time in Daytona, it’s that regardless of the damage, the show must go on.
Just a week ago, Daytona Beach – along with the rest of Florida – was affected by the catastrophic Hurricane Ian. Driving through town you don’t have to look far to see damage: roofs removed from homes, trees torn down, and ponds of water where grass used to reside. Despite the destruction, Daytona carries on. An influx of workers is here to help rebuild. Restaurant employees work extra hours to help supply food for residents that are still without their kitchens. On the golf course, maintenance crews pour extra care into the course, all so we can compete in our final tournament.
When we step on the first tee, we won’t lack the inspiration to fight on. To think past our aches and pains. To muster up all the strength left in our tank and cross the finish line. Then we can kick our feet up and reflect on another year on the road.