Ironing out the kinks

JEFFERSON HAGEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 PM ET

A.J. Eathorne was in such a slump last year she wasn\'t enjoying the game of golf anymore. That\'s something to say, for the 27-year-old former Canadian Amateur champion, who has been playing seriously since she was 13.

Her 2002 LPGA Tour stats didn\'t lie: 168th in driving accuracy; 163rd in greens in regulation.

You could practically count on one hand how many rounds under par she shot.

Eathorne had, by her own account, a season to forget.

\"It was kind of depressing,\" Eathorne said yesterday between holes at the Wayne Gretzky & Friends Celebrity Pro-Am at Valley Ridge. \"It was hard, I was very hard on myself. It had a lot to do that I wasn\'t very comfortable with my swing and, without confidence, there\'s not much you can do out there.

\"It\'s not so much your swing but your attitude and without confidence, it\'s very hard.\"

So the Calgary-born, Penticton, B.C.-raised Eathorne did what all slumping players do -- she made changes.

\"I\'ve learned a lot from (last year) to take away from it and say, \'what didn\'t go right?\'

\"I didn\'t like my swing, so I changed my golf coach,\" she explained.

\"I wasn\'t really happy with my attitude, so I kind of took a different perspective on things and I\'m really enjoying life in general. And in return, my golf game\'s getting a whole lot better.

\"I\'m spending more time with friends and family. I\'m working hard on the golf game but I\'m also working hard on having fun.\"

Eathorne took on former Calgarian and current Las Vegas resident Trevor Derrheim as her new swing coach.

With just one top-10 finish this season and only $35,491 in earnings, it isn\'t fair to suggest things are completely up to speed for Eathorne yet.

But she\'s optimistic the changes she\'s making in her swing are going to pay off as the 2003 LPGA season winds down.

\"I think my game\'s coming along nicely,\" Eathorne said. \"We\'ll just play it by ear but I\'m feeling really good about my game, actually. It\'s coming around.

\"My new coach and I are working real hard. I just have a good feeling about the next few weeks.\"

She explained Derrheim has been trying to work on her pace of swing, something that always aids in the driving accuracy department.

\"We\'ve been working on a lot of tempo, a lot more arm swing, trying to take the body out of it -- just basically taking the big mistakes out.\"

Eathorne plans to play in seven more events on the LPGA Tour this season and will tee it up for five tournaments in a row starting with the Aug. 8-10 Wendy\'s Championship in Dublin, Ohio.

For now, she\'s pleased with the levity the Wayne Gretzky & Friends event offers, considering Calgary is her second home town.

Eathorne was born here but lived in the city for just 10 days before her family moved to Penticton. Her mother\'s family is from Calgary, though, and she enjoys returning.

\"It\'s kind of cool to come back here,\" Eathorne said. \"I came here last year for a Valley Ridge outing to open up the teaching facility.

\"Obviously, the weather\'s fine, we\'ve had a few laughs and I\'ve got a great group right now.\"

Eathorne only hopes those laughs continue on the LPGA Tour this season as she puts her revamped swing to the test.


Videos

Photos