My Shot After missing 27 cuts in a row, I found sweet redemption at the Sara Lee Classic

May 23, 1999

Hans Merensky Golf Club in Phalaborwa, South Africa--the course
on which I grew up--teemed with hippos and warthogs, plus
wandering elephants that sometimes knocked down trees. Back then
I thought that learning to play on a course bordering Kruger
National Park would prepare me for anything in life. Then I
joined the LPGA.

Last season, my rookie year, I made 18 starts on the tour and
didn't win a dime--that's right, I didn't make a single cut.
This year I missed in my first nine tries. My closest brush with
the money list came at the Australian Ladies Masters, in
February, when I shot 74-73 and missed the cut by two shots. By
last week's Sara Lee Classic, I was 0 for 27, so when I shot a
first-round 66, I had to make sure I didn't get too excited. I
had opened with a 68 at the '98 Sara Lee, but lost focus while
gazing at my name on the leader board--LOPEZ, ASH--and shot a
second-round 76 to miss by one. Not this time. On Saturday, in
the most important round of my life, I shot a 72 and knew that
my six-under total would make it. I was in!

I shot a 76 on Sunday, and my first paycheck was for $1,056. I
was thrilled, considering I made just $8,000 last year: $5,000
for finishing third at the Morgantown Classic on the Futures
tour, $2,000 in pro-ams and $1,000 for using a certain brand of
putter. At one event I saved money by staying in a motel with
the caddies. At others I used the private housing provided by
the tour. I spent a lot of time behind the wheel driving my '96
Honda Civic from event to event instead of flying. In October, I
went back to Q school, where I regained my card by finishing
20th, but I didn't make any money there either. (Only the top 15
got paid.)

I'm glad I stuck it out, though. I'll take my first check, put a
photocopy of it in an album and try not to spend all the money
in one place. I realize now that I was too intense in '98, that
I need to back off and let it happen. I'm just glad it's finally
happening.

Nadine Ash, 26, is 169th on the '99 LPGA money list.

COLOR PHOTO: BEN VAN HOOK

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)