Ward battling through the rough

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

For every Paula Creamer or Morgan Pressel, there are a dozen Meredith Wards.

The Creamers and Pressels are the stars or soon-to-be stars of the LPGA tour. They play at virtually every LPGA tour stop, are blessed with endorsement deals, have agents, travel with coaches and sports psychologists and stay at nice hotels.

For players such as Ward, every week is a question mark. She is on a non-exempt LPGA list. She travels to LPGA events and plays Mondays in an effort to qualify. If she doesn't play well enough, she waits around and hopes that a spot opens up because of other players withdrawing. If no spot opens, it's a trip wasted.

That doesn't make them bad players. They know how to play. But golf isn't a very forgiving game.

This has been a good week for Ward. She came to London for the Canadian Women's Open for Monday qualifying. She didn't make it but got into the tournament as the eighth alternate. She played in four previous LPGA events this year and hasn't made the cut in any of them.

But she's playing this weekend and she's thrilled by it.

"It took me a few tournaments to get used to the commotion," she said. "There's a lot going on and it takes some time to get used to it, especially me, I like my quiet," she said.

And she's playing it well.

After three rounds, Ward is one-over-par. She was as low as three-under. But on the 17th hole she flew the green and her shot back hit a branch and landed on a spectator's chair. She took double-bogey.

Some golfers would be bent out of shape with the rough finish. But after signing her scorecard, Ward took time for autographs, soaking in the moment.

"It's exciting," she said. "If I wanted to sit and analyze everything (the pressure of doing well when you get the chance), you would get all tied up in knots. I just try and have fun every day and just go play and add up the numbers at the end and see what happens. I can't control what everyone else is doing. If I stay calm and play my game, it will take care of itself."

Ward is staying with a host family. One of the boys in the family, Ben Finlan, is her caddy.

"I travel alone," she said. "I don't travel with anyone so I stay with host families and I love it. It's not for some people. But for me, if I had to go back to a hotel room every night and eat out every night, I don't like it. I like to kick back and relax. Even though it's not my house, it's our house, I don't have to go back to a sterile hotel room."

Today will be a big day for Ward. If she plays well, she'll earn some LPGA cash. She's tied for 27th and has a paycheque of about $15,000 if she maintains that placing.

"I was really excited to make the cut," she said. "I wanted to play an LPGA event and now I can say I did that. Now I want to make money and see what I can do. It's a stepping stone, it's baby steps every week."

And maybe a bigger paycheque.


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