Barrington, R.I. – Decked out in her blue Australian team shirt and accompanied by her green golf bag with Australia embroidered on the side, Breanna Elliott finally felt in her comfort zone on Tuesday morning at Rhode Island Country Club.
Twenty-four hours earlier, it was a completely different story for the 19-year-old from Melbourne. Having arrived from Harrisburg, Pa., at midnight on Sunday, where she competed at the weather-delayed Pennsylvania Classic on the LPGA Futures Tour, Elliott quickly discovered none of her luggage came on the flight from New York to Providence.
No golf clubs. No suitcase.
And her starting time for Monday’s first round of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur was eight hours away.
The day had already been miserable enough with a 2½-hour delay on the tarmac in Harrisburg. Add an early withdrawal from the 54-hole tournament well before its completion to ensure she could play the Women’s Amateur, and life was not being kind to the Aussie.
But she never went into panic mode.
When Elliott got to Rhode Island C.C. on Monday, she did what any good guest without equipment would – she rented clubs and purchased an entirely new outfit.
“I did actually [feel like a tourist],” said Elliott.
While the pro shop staff couldn’t fit her with the exact brand of clubs, they found implements with similar shafts, and Elliott surprisingly played well considering the circumstances – rented clubs and no practice rounds. A 3-over-par 74 left her in solid contention to make match play.
“It was different,” she said. “I’ve never even used someone else’s clubs before. It was bizarre. The guys in the pro shop were really good in helping me. They fitted pretty well. The first couple of shots down on the range, I was like, ‘Maybe I like these [clubs] better.’ The clubs were actually fine. It was my putting that I struggled with. It was a different putter.”
The news got better when she returned to the hotel Monday afternoon. The clubs and luggage had arrived safely. Elliott could finally relax and on Tuesday, she posted a 1-under 70 to get into the match-play draw at 2-over 144.
“Today was good,” she said.
It’s actually been quite a good summer for Elliott. She traveled to India to play in the Queen Sirikit Cup, where Australia tied for ninth. And she also went to England to compete in the Astor Trophy, a competition featuring five-woman teams from the British Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England and South Africa).
But the crown jewel was earning a trip to the U.S. Women’s Open to spend the week as the guest of countrywoman Karrie Webb. The two-time Women’s Open champion runs a series of competitions in Australia and the top three finishers are annually invited to the Women’s Open. Elliott spent the week decked out in Aussie attire and wrapped in her country’s flag to support Webb, the country’s most accomplished female professional.
The trio of women also got to interact with Webb off the course and saw another side of their hero.
“She’s quite a player and I was a fan,” Elliott said. “But definitely it’s great to know her off the course. She gave us some great advice. I learned a lot actually. It was really lovely. She gave us advice about turning pro and waiting until you are ready. She was full of information.”
Elliott’s American odyssey didn’t end there. She traveled to Minneapolis for her Women’s Amateur sectional qualifier, then to The Woodlands, Texas, for an Australian National Team camp at the TPC at The Woodlands. From there, it was off to Dallas to spend another week at the home of Australian pro Rod Pampling and then to Pennsylvania for the Futures Tour event.
Back in Australia, Elliott is part of a scholarship program that provides equipment and funding for golf competitions. She plans to turn pro sometime in 2012. And she certainly has enjoyed playing in the U.S., especially the weather.
“Back home it’s winter right now,” said Elliott, who plays out of Kingston Heath Golf Club. “I’m enjoying the weather. We don’t get this type of humidity in Melbourne. And the courses are different. Different grasses. Different everything.”
But the same equipment.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. For questions or comments, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.