The support network was in place. The weather was perfect. Beth Bauer felt good, rested, ready. She had a share of the lead heading into the final round of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, and was playing the best golf of her life.
But if the putts just don't fall, nothing else matters.
And for Bauer, the putts rimmed the cup, slipped high of the cup, twisted below the cup and stopped short of the cup. The LPGA rookie shot a closing-round 2-under 69 but finished second, two shots behind winner Rachel Teske.
“It seemed like I had a lot of opportunities to win, but I just couldn't get the putts to fall,” Bauer said. “I think I had a real birdie chance on every hole on the back nine, but there are days when they don't go in.
“I burned the edges of the cup with everything. I made a couple, but had so many that were so close.”
Bauer was making her second visit to the Farr. She played here in 2000 as an amateur on a sponsor's exemption. She had a large gallery pulling for her yesterday, and the support of her grandparents and aunt and uncle who made the trip to Toledo from Illinois.
“It was a great experience - one of the best of my life - and the support really helped me relax out there,” Bauer said. “I really wasn't that nervous, despite the fact it was my first time playing in the last grouping.
“I just tried to relax and feel comfortable with my game and not get all wrapped up in the setting and put any pressure on myself.”
Bauer was paired with LPGA veteran Karrie Webb, who has 27 tour wins to her credit. Bauer wrestled the lead from Webb on the first hole, but was caught and passed by Teske, who had a closing 66.
Bauer made a pair of birdies and a bogey on the front nine, and had a lone birdie on No. 12 on the back nine. She never looked at the leaderboard until she reached No. 17, the first of the two closing par 5s, and learned Teske had moved two shots ahead at 14-under.
“I'm not much of a leaderboard watcher. I think it's more of a distraction than anything,” Bauer said. “I knew Rachel was playing well, but I had no idea she was at 14-under. I figured I should be right in there, but then I had to make birdie on the last two holes to have a chance at it.”
Bauer parred the final two holes, part of a string of six straight pars that ended her round. Her 272 total, 12-under par, was good for sole possession of second place and a check for $91,325, more than she made all last year on the Futures Tour when she set a record with $84,529 in earnings.
“This has been a great experience,” Bauer said. “I don't feel like I gave up the tournament at all.
“I had what was probably the best week of golf in my life, but Rachel was just better today.
“Considering the competition, I can't complain at all. I shot in the 60s all four days, so I can't leave here feeling bad at all.”
Webb, who played three of the four rounds with the former Duke star, said Bauer's day in the LPGA winner's circle is not far off.
“I just told her that she is going to have plenty of opportunities to win out here and not to feel too disappointed because she's a great player,” Webb said.
“If she would have made a couple more putts today she would have had an even better chance to win.”
Bauer, one of 26 rookies on the LPGA Tour, had made the cut in 11 of 15 events prior to the Farr. Bauer's best finish before the Farr was a tie for sixth at the LPGA Corning Classic in late May.