Saturday, July 23, 2016

Professional / LPGA Tour

Mel Reid, all alone, puts up incredible fight in narrow defeat by Japanese pair

Melissa Reid was on her own Friday at the UL International Crown after Charley Hull withdrew.
Melissa Reid was on her own Friday at the UL International Crown after Charley Hull withdrew. (Getty Images)
GURNEE, Illinois – Those who know England's Mel Reid well weren’t a bit surprised to see her single-handedly take a pair of top-50 players in the world to the 18th. 
Reid comes to life in these types of situations, a born fighter who thrives on a good challenge.
Reid’s solo act at the UL International Crown provided one of the best moral victories in match-play history. Plenty of players have felt like they were on their own in team competition during a four-ball match, but to actually be alone? 
The 28-year-old Englishwoman ultimately fell to Haru Normura and Mika Miyazato, by one hole, but the heroic effort could set up a big finish for Reid in 2016.
“I don’t know, there’s something that switches inside of me when I’m under severe pressure,” explained Reid. “I tend to just turn it on.”
Charley Hull carried Reid on the first day of four-balls, posting six birdies and an eagle on her own ball in their 2 and 1 victory. When Hull came down with a fever on Friday morning and withdrew from the competition, Reid, playing as a "one" against a "two," set the goal of making it past the 13th hole.
After all, Reid, ranked 123rd in the world, was taking on a pair of Japanese players ranked 22nd and 49th in the world. Reid figured if she shot 4 under on the day, she’d stave off embarrassment.
In fact, the only time Reid felt a tinge awkward was when she walked out alone on the first tee to the Spice Girls’ debut hit “Wannabe.
“It wasn’t ideal,” she laughed.
Otherwise, Karrie Webb called today’s setup the “the perfect challenge” for Reid.
On the par-4 13th, Reid woke up the tournament when she spun her second shot back into the hole from 70 yards for eagle. Even the Japanese players and caddies high-fived Reid for the effort. She rolled in another birdie putt on the 14th to go 4 under in a span of three holes.
Reid shot 6 under on the round, a valiant effort that surely gained her scores of new fans.
Those who know Reid’s story, however, would expect nothing less. It was four years ago that Reid lost her mother, Joy, in a car accident in Munich. Mel was there to compete in the UniCredit Ladies German Open. Reid won in Prague one month later.
It was a testament to Reid’s mental strength, but ultimately proved too much too soon. She nearly quit the game twice.
Back in Germany for the 2015 Solheim Cup, Reid roared like a lion around St. Leon-Rot Golf Club, providing tremendous theater on golf’s biggest stage. Once again, the five-time LET winner seemed primed to cash in on the talent she has long possessed.
Only Reid didn’t make it to LPGA Q-School last December. Her management team failed to meet the application deadline.
“It has ended me a little bit,” said Reid, who forgave those in involved but still isn’t over it.
A lot of things have set Reid back over the years. Playing another year in Europe meant another small schedule. She competed only six times coming into this event, and three of those were missed cuts in LPGA majors.
Rhythm has been hard to come by.
Reid and her swing coach, Kevin Craggs, are two years into a five-year plan. Right now they’re working on keeping her backswing on plane.
The good news for Reid is that she can ride confidence taken from the Crown into next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, played about 1 hour and 15 minutes down the M-1 from her home in Loughborough. Roughy 50 of her rowdy mates will be on hand at Woburn Golf Club in support.
Reid intends to give LPGA Q-School another go this December, and if she fails to earn a card, said she’d compete on the Symetra Tour until she does.
“I need to be out here,” Reid said.
Of that, there is no doubt.