The season’s first major begins Wednesday, with Mel Reid calling Ana Inspiration a “female mistress” and saying she has never felt more ready to win a major.
Reid, 33, finished seventh in this £ 2.25million showpiece last September, his best Palm Springs result in seven appearances. It was a turnaround for the then-ranked 108th Englishwoman in the world, and she continued the dramatic improvement with a fifth place finish on her next start before breaking her American duck on the LPGA Tour two weeks later at the Shoprite Classic.
There have been two more top-12s since for the world No.37 and a nice display in the first three rounds at Carlsbad last week which left her second with 18 holes to go. Sadly, five lost shots in three holes from the 12th forced Reid back to tie for the 26th, but, as she put it, “I have to take the positives from those first 54 holes.
“To be honest, it was nice to see the hard work pay off. Jorge [Parada, her coach] and it really took me hours, ”Reid said. “I missed the cup at Lake Nona last month and was really unhappy with the way I was hitting her. Jorge and I played on the lineup and played half decent at Ocala next week. There was a lot of good stuff in Carlsbad and I came here quite confident.
Reid, a proven Solheim Cup performer, admits she’s at her best when the glare is fiercest. Of course, the absence of fans at the Mission Hills Country Club – on the 50th anniversary of the tournament which some will forever call the Dinah Shore Classic – means it will be another strange affair, but the status of the event guarantees that competitors will experience what Reid terms “that special feeling”.
“We will, because let’s face it, this is our version of the Masters, the ‘Female Masters’ if you will,” she said.
“We come back to the same course every year, the caddies wear the boiler suits and the major has his own traditions, like the winner jumping at Poppie’s Pond behind the 18th green.
“And the course is incredible and always brings drama. It is in perfect condition year after year. And because we come back here every year, the memories are written in big, just like they are in Augusta.
“I still remember Webby [Australia’s Karrie Webb in 2006] fetch an eagle on the 18th to enter a play-off, then birdie again in the same hole to beat Lorena [Ochoa].
“The place has a history of spectacular moments over the last three holes and it would be amazing to write my own piece of history. I love this course and am happy to have finally played well here in 2020 because I think it suits my game in that you have to hit a lot of greens to fight. There is no excuse for putting, the balls roll beautifully.
Anyone who has followed Reid’s career since she jumped into sports consciousness in 2007 at St Andrews as an amateur teenager finishing in the top 16 of the Women’s British Open, will be delighted that she finally realizes her potential.
The death of her mother, Joy, in a car crash in 2012, put a damper on her progress as she struggled with her grief. The six-time Ladies European Tour winner secured an LPGA card in 2017 and a third at the PGA Women’s Championship 18 months ago underscored its enduring quality.
Perhaps Reid was fortunate that the British media had the rise of her young peasants Charley Hull and Georgia Hall to focus on, as she was allowed to continue grafting in the shadows and forming a backroom staff who, as well as Parada, include fitness trainer Ken Macdonald, sports psychologist Howard Falco and last, but probably above all, junior Ryan “Desi” Desveaux.
“It’s been a long time, but I finally feel like I have some sort of formula and my best years are still ahead of me,” she said.
“I’m just extremely happy with my team and I think they understand me and what I need. Desi is on the bag and we have become a great team. I have so many goals – this year’s Solheim Cup, the Olympics, which I have talked about a lot. I guess there is a way to achieve all of these goals in one week. “