FARGO — In a perfect world, Amy Olson would have taken the best finish of her career and immediately moved on to the next LPGA tournament. A world problem, however, shelved those ideas.
The LPGA’s canceling of tournaments in Singapore and Taiwan means the North Dakota State graduate will have to wait a month before competitively teeing it up again. The second-place finish at last weekend’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open could be somewhat of a distant memory by the time the Volvik Founders Cup in Phoenix rolls around in the middle of March.
“Golf is such a fickle game with so many ups and downs,” Olson said, “so when you have a good week you want to ride it. It’s hard to lose that momentum for the next month.”
The LPGA canceled this week’s Honda LPGA Thailand and the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore the following week because of the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Thailand and Singapore are located directly south of China.
“It was definitely the right decision,” Olson said. “Every single day we woke up to worse reports, not better reports. Those tournaments were a couple of weeks away and it hadn’t yet made a turn yet for the better. A couple of government agencies in Singapore and Taiwan kept changing their threat level, so it was the right decision from a health and safety standpoint for our tour.”
The toughest part of the cancellation for Olson was she qualified for both of the restricted-status tournaments. It would have been her second straight year of playing in both after finishing in a tie for 23rd at the Honda LPGA Thailand and a tie for fifth at the Women’s World Championship last year.
The abrupt change in plans was made easier for the players with the relationship between the LPGA and IMG, the company that handles the tour’s international television distribution rights. IMG is also responsible for the players’ travel and it was IMG that changed all the flights.
Olson flew back to Fargo on Monday. Her husband, Grant Olson, is an assistant football coach at NDSU.
“There’s some disappointment because you have to earn your way in Taiwan and Singapore,” she said. “But at the same time I love being home. I’m able to see my husband. His offseason did not overlap with my off-season at all, so this is our offseason together.”
It won’t be the first layoff of this extent at this time of the year for Amy. In 2018, after finishing in a tie for 48th at the Australian Open, she finished in a tie for 11th at the Founders Cup a month later.
Now on her seventh year on the tour, it will be back to the old routine of flying to Palm Springs, Calif., to work on her game before the Phoenix tournament. After a few days off anyway.
The finish at the Australian Open came after Olson missed the cut in the first two LPGA tournaments of the season at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in Florida and the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia. Putting was the main culprit. She 3-putted five times in Florida and four times at the first Australian tournament.
“I struggled with my ‘feel’ and lag putting,” she said. “I made some adjustments early in the week of the Australian Open and that felt really good heading in. But you still don’t know if making a change will hold up under pressure. I’m pleased with how that translated.”
A 5-under 68 on the par-73 course on Thursday got her off to a good start. Over the course of the tourney, the greens were firm and the wind picked up in the afternoon adding to the difficulty. To combat the conditions, she hit it low and got creative around the green using 5 and 7 irons for chipping.
“I practiced that quite a bit leading up to the tournament so that was a huge advantage for me,” Olson said. “I always love golfing in Australia. I like that style, it’s difficult, but I like it when par is a good score.”
The runner-up finish was worth $118,382. It’s early but that puts her in a significantly good position to retain her tour card for 2021. It’s really early, but she’s 14th in the standings to make the 12-player Solheim Cup team for the 2021 event at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Olson just missed making the 2019 team.
“Now I go back to practice,” she said. “But it does make this four weeks more relaxing and anxiety free knowing I had a great finish.”