April 16, 2007
By: Lisa D. Mickey
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1. A Step Back To Take A Step Forward:
Emily Bastel Rejoins Duramed FUTURES Tour
There was no dancing around the subject. It was painful and real. And after two years on the LPGA Tour, Emily Bastel stood there at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament last fall and knew her father was speaking the truth.
“He turned to me after Q-School and said, ‘You know what you’re going to be doing next year. You’re going to be playing on the Duramed FUTURES Tour, so dust yourself off and move on,’” said Bastel, 26, of Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
“My dad’s a realist,” she added. “And he’s never painted a flowery picture about being a golf pro. That’s really beneficial to me.”
And while losing something she worked so hard to achieve could have been debilitating, Bastel chooses to be motivated by it – just as she was motivated to earn her LPGA Tour card in the first place in 2004. It was a shock to anyone who followed the Duramed FUTURES Tour in 2004 to see one of the steadiest players get knocked out of earning one of the five 2005 LPGA Tour cards awarded to the top five money winners.
But that’s what happened. Bastel was cruising along looking to grab the fifth LPGA card when rookie Malinda Johnson came out of the blue and won the Duramed FUTURES Tour’s final tournament in York, Pa. Johnson charged into fifth place on the Tour’s money list, grabbed the No. 5 card and Bastel was left wondering what hit her. One minute, her longtime goal of earning LPGA Tour status was within reach. The next minute, she was making plans for LPGA Q-School.
“I took it pretty hard and when I went to LPGA Q-School that fall, I had an I-don’t-give-a-rip attitude, but having the attitude that whatever happens, happens, helped me get through Q-School,” said Bastel, who earned her card to play on the LPGA Tour in 2005.
Bastel took her solid short game to the LPGA Tour and posted two top-10 finishes in 2005, with a tie for ninth at the Wendy’s Championship for Children and a 10th-place finish at the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open. Her season results placed her 80th on the LPGA’s money list, granting her exempt status for 2006.
But 2006 was a different story. The former Michigan State University player missed 17 cuts and posted only a season-best tie for 37th. She earned less than $20,000 on the LPGA Tour and found herself heading to Q-School once again. Ninety holes later, she and her father were having their little face-the-music conversation.
“I played so well during my first year because I had no expectations, but my second year was a sophomore slump because my goals changed and I tried to force everything out there,” said Bastel. “I lost my card because I lost my confidence. I forgot what it felt like to play well, to be in the hunt or to shoot under par. Of course, I want to get my LPGA card back, but my main goal is to have confidence and to make it fun again.”
Bastel missed the cut at the Duramed FUTURES Tour’s 2007 season-opener in Lakeland, Fla., but turned a flat week around and finished tied for second the very next week in Tampa.
“She was pretty down about missing the cut in Lakeland, but it lit a fire under her butt,” said former Michigan State teammate and fellow Duramed FUTURES Tour member Sarah Martin of Grosse Ile, Mich. “When she tied for second, it proved to her that she’s still capable.”
Interestingly, both Bastel and another former Michigan State teammate -- last week’s winner, Allison Fouch -- finished sixth out the automatic LPGA Tour cards and were sent packing to LPGA Q-School. Fouch finished sixth on the Tour’s money list last year and finished just shy of earning LPGA status for the 2008 season. But like Fouch, Bastel chose to turn a seemingly devastating situation into a challenge. It made her even more determined to achieve her goal of playing on the LPGA Tour.
“I’ve had a lot of good things happen to me, but the worst things have taught me the most,” said Bastel. “I know that losing my card will be a similar type of thing and I feel lucky to have the Duramed FUTURES Tour to come back to. It’s a long season and I have to be patient because I know this is about my career, not a one-day or one-year thing.”
Bastel admits she still struggles with patience. And this year will be spent focusing on the things she can control. She also already has rekindled her love of competition.
“The players on the LPGA Tour have a chance to make a great living out there, but most of all, they want to win,” she said. “Most players would still want to win the U.S. Women’s Open even if they didn’t get paid. Loving the competition and always wanting to improve is what you’re really looking for.”
Bastel’s love of the game and even-keeled approach has made Martin and Fouch pay attention since their college days. Her short game was the model that all of the Spartans tried to emulate.
“She was a great putter and I remember watching her in college and saying, ‘OK, that’s what I’ve got to do,’” said Martin, who was two years behind Bastel at Michigan State.
“She just always gets the job done and knows how to play the game,” added Fouch. “Whatever goals Emily sets for herself, she will accomplish them.”
Bastel hopes her rerouting from the LPGA Tour is a mere “bump in the road.” And while she admits it’s still hard to turn on the TV to watch LPGA tournament telecasts, which remind her that she “was there last year,” the Ohio native also is making herself appreciate each new challenge as it happens.
“If I’m meant to get back out there – and I think I am – one way or another, it will happen,” she said. “But it’s refreshing to be at a point in my life where I realize that golf is very important, but so are other things. In the bigger picture, that’s a good place to be.”
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