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Published: Sunday, 7/21/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Concolino could be in for a big payday

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Jacqui Concolino became known to many members at Highland Meadows last year. Jacqui Concolino became known to many members at Highland Meadows last year.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge

The LPGA Tour publishes a player guide that provides a surface-scratching, light-and-bright glimpse of many of its golfers. Call it the LPGA over easy.

Anyway, some of the players were asked to list what they bought with their first professional paychecks.

Some of the answers are what you might expect, like Brittany Lincicome’s Lincoln Mark LT truck and Wendy Ward’s Toyota 4-Runner. Pomanong Phatlum purchased a Louis Vuitton purse, Anna Nordqvist some Oakley sunglasses, Jin Young Pak a laptop. Ilhee Lee took her family on vacation to a resort.

And then there’s Jacqui Concolino, who cashed her first check and indulged in a bag of tees.

Must have been one tiny check. Or one giant bag of tees.

“I remember that,” she said Saturday. “My first check was last year in Mobile. I needed tees.”

And she shrugged.

What the heck? You need tees, you buy tees.

She could have bought a few trees and made her own after last summer’s LPGA tour stop at Highland Meadows Golf Club. Her career-best finish, a tie for 11th, paid close to $20,000.

It wasn’t the only time she cashed last year at the Meadows.

About two weeks before the tournament, Concolino’s father called tournament director Judd Silverman and said his daughter was hoping to arrive in Toledo early, like in the next day or two, to practice. OK, Silverman said. Any chance he could find her housing? Well, I guess, Silverman said.

So Concolino moved into housing coordinator Nora Longthorne’s basement and darned near became a member at Highland Meadows.

Dave Fockler, a dues-paying type, pulled into the parking lot that first day and saw Concolino walking toward the clubhouse.

“I didn’t know who she was, but you can always tell the LPGA players by how they’re dressed,” he said. “So I asked, ‘What are you doing here so early?’ ”

“Looking for a game,” Concolino said.

“Let’s go,” Fockler said.

When they got to the back-to-back par 5s that close out the front nine for members [it’s the back nine for the Marathon Classic], the two decided to play for a dollar a hole.

“We both birdied the first one, then I had a birdie putt lip out,” Fockler said. “It cost me a buck. So her first prize money here came from me.”

Maybe she bought another bag of tees.

Fockler’s wife, Diane, was hitting balls on the range and joined her husband and his new friend on the patio for a cold one.

“She’s definitely a talker,” Diane said of the Vanderbilt University grad.

And a charmer. By the time the 2012 Farr ended and Concolino left town she was on a first-name basis with darn near every member of the club.

Heck, by then she may have had signing privileges in the dining room.

Later today, she may be able to pick up the food tab for everybody.

Concolino is at 9-under and three shots out of the lead in the $1.3 million Marathon Classic, with the winner taking home $195,000.

“I’d rather be in the lead,” she said. “You want every advantage you can get. But I really feel comfortable out here. I got to know some of the members and they are really supportive.”

Concolino is one of five players — joined by Chie Arimura, Chella Choi, Jodi Ewart-Shadoff, and Mo Martin — in the top 10, within five shots of the lead, who are chasing their first tour victories.

They all have dreamed the same dream. Saturday night, they slept on it once again.

And in reality, it has nothing to do with cars and trips and expensive purses. There’s nothing wrong with money, especially nice big wads of it.

But this is simply about winning, about proving yourself, about being the best in your profession if only for one week.

“When you’re sitting in the rookie meeting after Q-school [the LPGA’s qualifying tournament] and they ask about goals, every player in the room has the same one,” Concolino said.

“But unless you’re one of the phenoms, there’s a lot of growing involved. There’s definitely a learning curve. I think I’m mentally stable enough. I’ve been there on Sundays. I’m ready.”

So are her fellow Highland Meadows members.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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