When Samanta Richdale tees it up this week at the Symerta Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina, the 29-year-old from Kelowna hopes it represents just another step in an eventual return to a full-time gig on the LPGA Tour.
Richdale, who had playing status for three years (2010 to 2012) on the world’s top women’s golf circuit, is refining her game this season on the Symetra Tour.
And so far, so good for the KSS grad who has a pair of top-10 finishes on North America’s top developmental tour, to rank 13th overall on the Symetra’s money list.
A top-10 finish at season’s end and Richdale would regain her LPGA Tour card.
“I hope to get into the top five, maybe see if I can get a win and get back on the LPGA Tour,” said Richdale, who lives in Phoenix. “I haven’t had a win in a while, but I’m feeling pretty good about my game. I’ve been working a lot with my coach and I’ve started to figure out my swing a bit more. I’m optimistic about the rest of the season.”
Since last March, Richdale has been making strides working with John Stahlschmidt, the head teaching pro at TPC Scottsdale’s Tour Academy.
In addition to honing the technical side of her game, the former Illinois State Redbird has been working hard at fine-tuning her mental approach at the professional level.
Despite some early success when she won more than $36,000 in 2010, Richale said she never really developed the proper mindset for the LPGA Tour.
“I’m doing a lot better, I’m more relaxed and just trying to enjoy being out there,” Richdale said. “If I can get my LPGA card back, I’m going to have a different mindset. I was more stressed than I should have been, I just tried too hard when I was out there and when that happens you lose the enjoyment. I need to let more of my natural abilities come through.
“I struggled a lot on the LPGA,” she added, “I don’t feel like I ever had a great tournament in three years. I’d like another chance.”
Some of Richdale’s best golf came during the 2009 season when she finished fourth on the Symetra Tour (then named Duramed) and earned playing status on the LPGA Tour.
This season, she is showing signs of returning to form with two top-10s, including a sixth-place showing at the Natural Charity Classic March 22 to 24 in Winter Haven, Fla.
If not for an unwelcome quadruple-bogey eight on the par four 10th in the final round, Richdale may have well finished as high as second place. Still, unlike her former self, Richdale said she didn’t let the turn of events get her down, instead choosing a more mature and grounded approach.
“That was pretty messy, something like that can be pretty debilitating in the middle of a final round,” she explained. “I’ve actually done a really good job this year controlling my emotions and staying focused. I actually came back with three birdies after that, so I’m showing to myself that I can handle that mental side of the game better.”
Richdale will be coming home to B.C. later this month—although not as far inland as Kelowna—to play in her first event of the CN Canadian Women’s Tour.
Richdale will tee it up May 13 to 15 at Beach Grove Golf Club in Tsawwassen.