MESA, Ariz. — It’s a busy two weeks in Arizona for the LPGA and its developmental tour.
The Epson Tour’s Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic, which runs through Sunday, is being held for a third time at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa.
Next week, the LPGA returns to the Grand Canyon State for the first time since 2019 when the Bank of Hope Founders Cup was played in Phoenix. Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club is hosting the LPGA Drive On Championship from March 23-26. The club also hosted the LPGA from 2004-08 for the Safeway International.
It makes for a pretty great situation for up-and-coming golfers to take advantage of back-to-back playing opportunities.
Despite an up-and-down week at the Carlisle, LPGA member Bailey Tardy is trying to make the most of consecutive weeks at golf courses just 21 miles apart. She said her first-round 79 on Thursday was due in part to key piece of equipment she forgot to pack.
“I didn’t have golf shoes the first day so I think that was my issue,” she said before showing off her new shoes. “Fifty dollars. PGA Superstore. Not the same ones, but I like them better.”
Tardy followed her 79 with a 64 to make the cut Friday.
Like Tardy, Canada’s Maude-Aimee LeBlanc will make her first 2023 LPGA start at the Drive On. And like Tardy, LeBlanc lives back east, so the Epson event is a great chance to prep.
“We haven’t played in Arizona in a while and I practice in Florida so it’s very different, the grass, the air. The ball goes a lot farther here,” she said, noting that she’s also breaking in a new caddie this week in Mesa.
There were 16 players who entered the Epson event also in the upcoming LPGA field, with Tardy among the 13 advancing to the weekend. Two of those advancing – Grace Kim and Celine Borge – are LPGA members who were 2022 Epson Tour graduates. Two others – Jaravee Boonchant and Karen Chung – are dual members, having finished between No. 21 and 45 in last year’s Q Series.
The other nine golfers who made the cut at Longbow are LPGA members: Lauren Stephenson, Lauren Coughlin, Pernilla Lindberg, Grace Kim, Amanda Doherty, Caroline Inglis, Valery Plata, Samantha Wagner along with Tardy and Leblanc.
For new Epson Tour chief business and operations officer Jody Brothers, his focus is on the first of the two events in Arizona but knows having the LPGA here next week helps on preparation and logistics for many players.
“They’re pros at traveling, but anytime you can settle in and get comfortable, whether it’s time-zone adjustment or green speeds or types of grass, I think that serves them really, really well,” he said.
Tardy missed out on her LPGA card for the 2021 season by a mere $343. Now that she has status, she’s not taking anything for granted.
“It’s just as hard to stay on the LPGA as it is to get your card.”
She’s also learned that a first-round 79 doesn’t have to ruin your week.
“Honestly, after the first round and then [bouncing back in] the second round is just never give up on yourself,” she said. “Just don’t harp on the bad things and focus on what you’ve done and rely on that to prepare yourself for the next day.”