The USGA added 13 players to its roster of national champions in 2013, but some of our favorite stories of the year weren’t necessarily about the winning putt or the turning point in a match. This is the last in a six-part series that reviews some of the compelling stories that you might have missed in our 2013 championship coverage.
Lin McMillan never was much for cruises, anyway.
So when she received an email less than a week before the championship that she had earned entry into the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, it didn’t matter to McMillan that she was on a cruise ship, far from a port of call.
“We left on Saturday and I got the email on Sunday,” said McMillan, of Palm Coast, Fla. “My boyfriend, (David Culver) said, ‘You’ve got to play in it.’ We were out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.”
If McMillan wasn’t so determined to play, she might have abandoned the odyssey from the ocean to Asheville, N.C.It took a lot of doing, but McMillan got to the Women’s Mid-Amateur, and she made the most of the opportunity, reaching match play and winning one match before she fell in the second round to 2009 champion Martha Leach, 1 up.
She left the cruise ship two days after receiving the initial email, disembarking in Jamaica. She had already bought a plane ticket to Orlando so she could stop at home to pick up her clothes and clubs. Unfortunately, the ticket she purchased was for the wrong airport in Jamaica. She had to rebook and fly out of Kingston. She couldn’t fly directly to Asheville from Orlando, so she went into Greenville, S.C., and drove a van, the only rental option available, the rest of the way. She got a room – only one night was available – and figured she would sort out the rest of it later.
“I started wondering, can this be any harder?” said McMillan, who had been the first alternate out of the Orlando sectional. “I was just so happy to be able to come and play in the tournament, though. This is what golfers are about; you learn how to navigate through anything.”
McMillan has played in several USGA championships, including three in 2012 alone: the Senior Women’s Amateur, the Women’s Amateur Public Links and the Women’s Mid-Am.
“It was worth the trip to play in a USGA event,” she said. “I don’t care where it is; if I have an opportunity to play in it, I’m going to be there.”
McMillan qualified at Biltmore Forest Country Club as the No. 21 seed with rounds of 79-80, then captured her first-round match by a 4-and-3 margin. She faced a familiar second-round foe in Leach.
“We had played each other out at CordeValle in the Senior Women’s Amateur two weeks ago,” said McMillan afterward. “Neither one of us played our A game today, but our match was close, right to the very last putt. I parred No. 17 to get within one, and then I left my putt on the last hole straight in and short from 10 feet. She beat me on the 18th hole – and in the second round – just like two weeks ago. It felt like déjà vu.”
The Women’s Mid-Amateur extended McMillan’s golf schedule to a fourth consecutive week, since she was already planning to play the following week in the Eastern Senior Amateur in Aiken, S.C., followed by the Southeastern Women’s Amateur Team Championship and ending with the Southern Women’s Senior in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the end of October.
“I’ve got to get home, get packed again and get back in the car,” McMillan said. “This gave me one more week that I wasn’t expecting.”