Holly Clyburn: "It hasn’t sunk in that I’ve got my LPGA card"January, 2016
Mark Townsend speaks to the Cleethorpes youngster bound for the LPGA Tour
Twelve months ago Holly Clyburn was on the wrong end of the often nonsensical golfing rulebook. Clyburn was at the second stage of Qualifying School, had just opened with a 71 when her playing partner, Australia’s Justine Lee, got into a disagreement with a volunteer over her own score, a 78.
She then left the scorer’s tent having failed to sign Clyburn’s card which had just been passed to her and Clyburn, instead of finishing the first day in a tie for 11th, had the letters DQ next to her name. Bizarrely, Lee was able to play on (she didn’t make it).
Roll the clock forward and we speak with Clyburn at Gatwick Airport, she has just landed from Florida and is en route to Dubai for the season-ending tournament on the LET. The 24-year-old is, not surprisingly, in good spirits having just secured the golden ticket, a card for the 2016 LPGA Tour.
Three years ago she was part of the victorious Curtis Cup side at Nairn, now she will tee it up with the great and good of women’s golf on a weekly basis.
. . .
I went out to Orlando the week before with my good mate Amy Boulden, so we spent three days in Orlando at Champions Gate and Bay Hill and had practice rounds on the Sunday and Monday. Then some light practice before the marathon on the Wednesday.
The mindset was to take every day as it came. Luckily I was with Amy and we kept each other company. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and I didn’t at all. The aim was to not have anything more than a bogey on my scorecard and that’s what I did.
I got a little bit frustrated in the middle of the week when the putts weren’t dropping but I just thought it wouldn’t go on forever. They actually started to drop on the fifth day.
Last year didn’t play on my mind, at the second stage it did as I knew a lot of people in that area and the people working there. At the final stage I just thought we’re bigger and better than that and that it had happened for a reason.
Now was a better time to make it.
I am improving all the time. I think my strength is going to be an asset" The biggest day is almost the second day as you can put yourself out of it. That was a key day as I felt like I made loads of ground (60th to 18th) on the easier Jones course and was then in it. The Jones was a lot wider and you felt like you could attack more, the Hills Course was narrower with tighter pins.
I knew there would be chances on the Jones course but anything can happen with the weather in Florida. On the Saturday, on the Jones, all it did was rain and blow.
. . .
I was very aware of the scores, there were scoreboards on 17 and 18. I saw that the top 20 was -6 and that’s what I was at the time. Then I lipped out for birdie and I thought that could have been my chance.
When I was walking down 18 the qualifying score went from -6 to -5, so I thought if the worse comes to the worst I would be -5.
. . .
At 18 I hit a fantastic drive and second shot but it caught the wind, I hit a good chip and a good putt but it didn’t go in.
Then we had an hour to wait, Jo had something to eat, Amy and her caddy were there as was a friend from Woodhall Spa who lives in Florida half the year, so we just relaxed. Or tried to. Then the score went to -4 and I thought it was safe to ring my mum and dad.
. . .
Amy was brilliant on the Saturday night, you never would have known that she hadn’t made it and, as soon as we got in the car, she was so excited for me and was over the moon when I finally made it. I know that she will do exactly the same next year and we can regroup in 2017.
We both had our caddies with us, I had Jo Morley, who played on the LET and LPGA and was twice a Solheim assistant captain, with me. I had my dad at second stage but at final stage you need that comfort of your normal caddy, they know your game as well as you do and she would pull me back if needed. Thankfully she didn’t have to do that.
. . .
I don’t know what events I’ll get to though, I’m looking forward to all of them! It has been a dream from day one and I need to keep that alive now.
I am improving all the time. I think my strength is going to be an asset, half the girls hit it a country mile and scrambling is going to be important.
I finished working with David Leadbetter in the middle of season and am back with Mike Walker who coaches, among others, Matt Fitzpatrick, Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood on the men’s European Tour. And that has really helped with my consistency, we used to work together for five years.
I will still play the LET as much as possible, I would never abandon it as I love it too much. I have to play six events as a minimum.
If I get into the Bahamas event then it is going to be busy at the start of the year and then it’s the first Major in April. I am now in most of the Majors, which is amazing.
It hasn’t sunk in that I’ve got my LPGA card yet. I imagine I will live halfand-half at home and Florida, where I know a lot of people.
At the start everything will probably faze me but I’ve got quite a strong personality so I should be OK.