Ryann O'Toole remains steady through up-and-down round

Contact Reporterkyanchulis@dailypress.com

JAMES CITY — Ryann O’Toole’s first hole Friday at the Kingsmill Championship could have signaled the start of a no-good, very bad day.

While the 29-year-old said each shot felt good off her club, the ball wound up in the bunker and then deep in the rough. By the time she hacked it out of trouble and found the hole, she had a double bogey.

“Well, that added up quickly,” O’Toole said she thought as she walked off the green of the 10th hole at Kingsmill’s River Course.

Yet O’Toole let the bad beginning roll off her, part of the Zen approach she has started applying to her game.

O’Toole framed it this way: If after a round, she threw her score from each hole in a hat and drew them out in a different order, they would still add up to the same total. So she refused to let the double bogey drag down the rest of her day just because it happened to come first.

“I remember saying to my caddie: If you’re going to bogey the first two holes, I guess it’s better to double the first one instead and try to birdie the next,” O’Toole said.

While she did not birdie the next hole or the one after that, shooting even par, on the 13th through 16th holes she reeled off an eagle and three birdies.

“I’d been knocking on the door on the holes prior to that,” O’Toole said. “I was just waiting for putts to drop.”

The eagle came on the par-5 15th hole, and each shot she took on that hole was better than the last, her caddie, Matthew Galloway, said.

Through the rest of the second round, O’Toole had a birdie and two bogeys.

One of her bogeys came on her final hole of the day, No. 9. Her approach shot landed in the rough on a steep incline off the green of the par-4, but she landed a chip shot four feet from the hole and appeared poised to make par before missing her first putt.

Ending her day on a sour note affected her about as much as starting on one.

“I thought the putt was going to break a little bit more,” O’Toole said. “But, oops. There are 36 more holes. I can’t get mad at stopping on a bogey.”

Such a mindset requires cultivation, according to O’Toole. She constantly brings herself back to the shot at hand, the situation immediately in front of her.

“Like a swing, or your putting, you have to practice the mind game too, and you have to train yourself,” O’Toole said.

Of course, a 4-under score through the first two rounds, three off leader So Yeon Ryu, probably helps too.

O’Toole is coming off her best finish on the LPGA Tour since 2011, a tie for sixth place in the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala., two weeks ago.

After finishing in the top 10 twice in her first year competing in the LPGA in 2011, she was hobbled by a lower back injury and had to go back to LPGA Qualifying School to ensure a spot on the tour in 2015.

This year, she has regained her form, with two top-10 finishes and another strong performance so far at Kingsmill, where she has finished at 2-under-par 69 in each of the first two rounds.

“I think I’ve learned the most that you’re going to have your ups and downs and staying in the moment has been the best thing for me,” O’Toole said.

Her come-what-may attitude even extended to the weekend’s gloomy weather forecast.
“I want it to get rainy,” O’Toole said. “Why not? You can’t control it. You just play in it.”

Yanchulis can be reached by phone at 757-298-5176.

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