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Courtesy: USGA

Victoria Fallgren Blogs Her Final Thoughts Following Loss

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 06/17/2012
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            NOTE:  Gonzaga University's Victoria Fallgren and Tai Jade 'TJ' Kliebphipat teed off Monday in the 36th Women's Amateur Public Links in Neshanic Valley Golf Course in Neshanic Station, N.J. Both have advanced to match play which began Wednesday. TJ advanced to the second round, but Victoria lost her opening-round match to longtime friend Tiffany Lua. This the the last of Victoria's blogs about her experience. Live scoring for match play is available by clicking here.

             By Victoria Fallgren - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

            Despite having lost my match today, I leave this year's WAPL feeling very encouraged about my game.  While obviously, I would have liked to have moved on, I played really solidly today, and I made Tiffany come and get the victory from me. 

            Facing Tiffany again had a definite sense of déjà-va.  Two years ago, when I played against her at Notre Dame, it had been the first time I had ever made it to match play in a USGA event, and I was incredibly intimidated. When I won, it was a shock to everyone. This year, I knew I was going to have to really play well, but I didn't feel that same sense of panic. If anything, I was enjoying being the underdog, playing with a chip on my shoulder, knowing I still had something to prove.

           With temperatures reaching 95 degrees today, I fell two down early, after only three holes, but with a birdie on my fourth hole and a par on my fifth hole I was able to pull all square.  We stayed all square through twelve, until Tiffany birdied, before I squared the match back again. Tiffany proceeded to birdie the next three holes to win, 3 and 2.  Despite the heavy deficit, I am still proud of how I played.  My game felt really solid this week, and I definitely didn't lose today, Tiffany beat me. 

            Come this fall, it is going to be a lot of fun to take what I have learned this week, and play some more good golf. I can tell when I am at these large events that the name Gonzaga University is a much more well-known school than it was in years past, and that has everything to do with the progress the team has made in the last few years. Tiffany and I have been friends for years before today, but I could really tell today that she respected me more as a player, and knew she would have to play well to beat me, as opposed to two years ago when she thought she would have an easy walk around the course.

            Conversely, TJ played really well in her match today, and handily beat her playing companion, 4 and 3. She plays Jennifer Yang tomorrow, who we actually played the practice round with. I have every confidence that she can continue moving on. My family and I will be sending her good vibes and hoping she and her parents stay cool tomorrow, which is forecasted to reach nearly 100 degrees, with oppressive humidity.

            While this week ended a lot earlier than I would have liked, I am still proud of my effort. I played really well, got to play a great course, saw some of my friends, learned a lot and represented the Gonzaga women's golf program well. TJ's going to have to pick up the mantle for the rest of the week, but all in all, this has been a really great event, and I can't wait until next year. Now for me, my mind is switching gears, as next week I will be traveling to Turkey to study abroad. With being away from my clubs, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to explore another country and learn about other cultures, but I'm also looking forward to being hungry to play as soon as I get back.

             By Victoria Fallgren - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

            Today was incredibly stressful to say the least.  Admittedly, I did not do a very good job of staying true to my game plan of playing relaxed and just trying to enjoy myself.  When I started, I could feel the tension in my body, and as much as I tried to right the ship, I got off to a very poor start, finding myself three over after three holes.  After two more bogeys, I was five over after eight holes, and I was absolutely livid. I was completely seeing red. Talk to any coach or someone who knows about golf, and they will tell you how essential it is to stay calm and to not allow yourself to be quick to anger. I normally pride myself on being relatively placid with my emotions on the golf course, but I failed exceptionally at that. I saw all my hard work of posting a good number yesterday slipping through my fingers, and I knew that if I didn't get my act together, I could be in danger of not even making it to match play.

            Luckily for me, on my ninth hole, the stationed Rules Official was a woman from the Southern California area, and upon hearing I was struggling, she merely shrugged and said, "Just play better on the next nine holes." Sometimes, that statement is easier said than done, and other days, it feels like all it takes is a moment of clarity to realize to make the conscious decision. I think that helped me snap out of my funk because I realized that if I played my next nine holes in even par, I would finish at two over for qualifying, and make match play with a couple strokes to spare. I had said that to myself two years ago at Notre Dame with nine holes, and had made match play with two strokes to spare. I finally pulled my head out for my last nine holes and played them in even, just as I was pushing myself to do. I finished with a two-day total of 146, and having played in the morning wave, just had to wait.

            When my parents and I went back to the course in the afternoon, TJ was just finishing her round. She played really well today, shooting a one-over 73, to finish at 147, one stroke behind me, albeit in a more consistent fashion than me. I ended up making the cut by three, and finally satisfied that I was in for sure, I went home to rest up.

            Tomorrow I'm playing an old friend of mine, Tiffany Lua, which is really ironic, considering I played her in the first round of match play two years ago at Notre Dame, and in a total upset, beat her. I think the loss probably shocked her, so I can only assume she's going to be hungry tomorrow and out for my blood - metaphorically. I feel like I am a much better player now than I was two years ago, and even though I had nine poor holes this morning, I know I am still playing well, and if my dad and I stick to our game plan better tomorrow, I will be able to compete with Tiffany.

            TJ and I both have a long and hot day ahead of us tomorrow, but we are confident in ourselves and each other. She's in the lower bracket, whereas I am in the upper one, so we would not meet until the finals, which we'll just have to make happen.

            By Victoria Fallgren - Monday, June 18

            With one night of qualifying in the books, my game plan is still the same, and there is still a lot of golf to be played. I played really well today, shooting 69, 3-under par.  My dad and I did a good job of sticking to our game plan, and we just have to do it again tomorrow.

            I didn't tee off today until 2:30 ET, which was the last tee-time of the day.  With my late tee-time today, I'll tee off tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday. I personally like the late-early combination much better than going early-late, because it affords you much less time between the rounds to either brood or get tense. 

            My parents and I got an early lunch, shopped around a bookstore before heading to the course. Many of the players from the morning wave of tee times had already finished their rounds, and many of my friends had already posted good numbers, so looking at the scoreboard I knew that scores were much lower than in years past, and that I would indubitably have to put up a low score.  I saw TJ a couple minutes before I went out, and congratulated her on a good round.  I had been watching her round on my phone with the live-scoring, and she had recovered really well after a shaky start.

            When I finally teed off, I got off to a good start, with two birdies on my first two holes, before an inescapable bogey on the third hole.  Everyone I talked to before and after the round had had trouble on that hole.  The hole locations were a fair mix of very difficult and very score-able today, and my dad and I were impressed with how well-thought out they were. I had two more good birdies on the front nine, on 6 and 8, and then proceeded to par in the ultimate 10 holes.  Overall, I struck the ball very well, hitting 14 greens in regulation, but the greens at this course are so large that statistic is a bit skewed.  More importantly, though, my short game was really solid, with 29 putts, and I had very few knee-knocking putts that put a lot of pressure on me, which probably helped keep my mom's blood-pressure down.

            Going into tomorrow, my attitude and game plan remain the same.  The only thing that matters about the two days of qualifying is that you make it to match play. My dad and I are just going to go out and have fun again, and put together the lowest round possible. I think sometimes my self-deprecating personality helps me a great deal from getting to far ahead of myself, because there is always another obstacle that I place in front of myself to get over before I can be satisfied.  Maybe tomorrow after another good round I can be satisfied.  

            By Victoria Fallgren - Sunday, June 17

            Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there first off.

            With tomorrow marking the beginning of qualifying of the WAPL, while I obviously want to play well, I am determined to not stress out and get myself into an overstressed state of mind. It is exciting enough to have qualified for this tournament, so the hard part is long over. I just want to go out and have a fun week of golf with my dad on the bag. Perhaps I am in a really great state of mind, or perhaps I am just getting older and wiser, or perhaps my nerves are just unpunctual, but I feel remarkably nonplussed going into this week.  I have been playing well and practicing hard, so I know I am perfectly capable of competing this week.

            The last time I played in a USGA event, my only goal was to make match play. Now, I know that is well within my capabilities and I want to push myself to see how far into match play I can make it. I have my dad looping for me this week, as always, and he and I are adopting our standard adage that "it's just golf;" at the end of the day, it's just a sport; a sport that I intend on excelling at, but a sport nonetheless.

            TJ and I played our two practice rounds these last two days, and I am really looking forward to the challenge the course poses. It is very straightforward, but the greens are deceptively simple. You have to be very aware of where the high spots and the low spots on the course are, because they have a much greater effect on putts than they do at other courses. Luckily, identifying the high and low spots is fairly simple because they are a direct result of drainage, and that is rather clear.

            Last night (Saturday) was the player's welcome dinner, which was definitely a highlight of my golfing career. The dinner was hosted at Golf House, the headquarters of the USGA, as well as their research center and golf museum.  My dad and I have long had an obsession with the USGA, from its rulebook to its championships.  It has been one of my dreams to visit and/or work at Golf House, so I was ecstatic at last night's visit. Our guest speaker was none other than Annika Sorenstam, who shared her experiences on setting goals and handling nerves. For someone so renowned and illustrious, she was very down to earth, and blatantly sincere. Afterwards, we had an opportunity to explore the museum, and I jokingly pointed out to TJ that as a Classical Civilizations major, one of the few things I can do is be a curator at a museum, and being involved with the USGA museum would be a dream job for me.

            So, in conclusion, following my tangents filled with golf vernacular that I apologize for, I am incredibly excited for the tournament to start tomorrow. Any day playing golf is a good day, so I'm looking forward to making this a really good week.

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