8/8/14--Lauren Thibodeau of Hampstead gets a hug from her mother, Kristen, before teeing off in the Symetra Tour at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown on Friday. DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER
GOFFSTOWN — Lauren Thibodeau’s first day playing with golf professionals in the Symetra Tour’s New England Charity Classic at Stonebridge Country Club was difficult, but at the same time exciting for the 14-year old from Hampstead.
“It was a lot of fun to play this level of competition,” said Thibodeau. “I was mainly focusing on my game but I would look at the leaderboard now and then.”
The four-time New Hampshire Junior State Amateur champion was among an international field of professional golfers in this Symetra Tour event, all competing for a chance to earn an LPGA Tour card.
The day also held a few surprises. Thibodeau was unaware that if she shot a score of 88 or higher in the opening round she would be disqualified from the tournament.
It’s probably a good thing that she didn’t know. She made a difficult birdie putt from just off the green on her final hole without the added pressure to finish with a score of 15 over par 87.
Thibodeau’s parents were also unaware of that rule. Her mother, Kristen Thibodeau, said a lot of family members were planning to attend the tournament today to see Lauren play today.
“That would have been awful” said Kristen Thibodeau of the possible disqualification.Lauren Thibodeau also got tripped up on a technicality during her round, which cost her a two-stroke penalty when she accepted a ride from the official scorer to help look for a lost ball on the 10th hole. The rules state she could only ride with a rules official, not a scorer. Lauren Thibodeau said she sort of knew she wasn’t supposed to ride in the cart, but the official offered and her fellow golfers in her threesome said it was OK. It wasn’t. All involved apologized but the penalty stood anyway.
Thibodeau was tired at the end of her round. Stonebridge Country Club is at least 1,000 yards longer than her home course, Windham Country Club. Plus, the strong winds early in her round made it that much harder to drive the ball.
She only made two birdies and four pars on Friday. The rest were bogeys or worse.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be on par. It’s my first time out here. I learned a lot,” said Thibodeau. “I think I’ll do a lot better Saturday.”
She also experienced an unexpected taste of life as a celebrity golfer. After she checked in with the scorer’s table, a young fan asked her to sign a program and a golf ball for her. She gladly obliged.
It will be a quick turnaround for Thibodeau today. She tees off at 9:25 a.m. from the from the 10th tee with Chessey Thomas of Spokane, Wash., who shot an 84 Friday.
Anyone considering attending the tournament should leave extra time. Parking is off Route 114, away from Stonebridge Country Club, and attendees will be shuttled in.