RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Tess Hackworthy signed her scorecard, scanned the leaderboard and settled into a chair outside the clubhouse at Mission Hills Country Club on a steamy Sunday as the future raced to-and-fro around her.
The 354 golfers who had started the week at the first stage of LPGA/Symetra Tour Qualifying School had been whittled to 151 for the last round of the 72-hole audition. Hackworthy's day was done shortly after 1 p.m. local time as the final groups in the afternoon wave were just getting set to tee off.
The University of Wisconsin golfer and her dad/caddie, Dave, would continue monitoring the action as they set out for the family's second home in Santa Barbara to get ready for their Monday flight home to Madison. They had a pretty good idea Tess, whose senior season at UW begins this week, would come up a few shots shy in her adjusted goal of finishing among the top 95 golfers plus ties and advancing to the second stage in October in Venice, Fla.
And she did.
Hackworthy, who began her week with a 2-over-par 74 on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, ended it that way, too. In the end her 72-hole total of 8-over 296 was 21 shots behind medalist Bianca Pagdangana, a University of Arizona golfer from The Philippines and three shots out of the top 95, meaning it would have taken a 71 or better for Hackworthy to advance.
Her first five holes were rocky. Hackworthy started on No. 10 and went bogey-birdie-bogey-bogey-birdie before the 2014 WIAA Division 2 state champion from Madison Edgewood settled down and parred 12 of her final 13 holes around a bogey at No. 1 after the turn.
"It was tough (Sunday)," Hackworthy said of the 6,700-yard layout that has long served as the site of the LPGA Tour's first major championship of each season — once simply known as "The Dinah Shore" and now called the ANA Inspiration — and played like it Sunday amid another day of 100-degree temperatures. "They had really good pins out there for us and not a lot (of them) that you could go at. Thankfully, I had some decent clubs in where I was able to get at a few. I think I handled everything pretty well. I gave myself as much opportunity as I could. I'm really pleased with the positions I put myself in. I just didn't get everything to drop, unfortunately."
As she looked back on her week, Hackworthy felt as if she led the field in burned edges on birdie putts.
But that was the purpose for coming here as an amateur golfer undecided if a jump to the professional ranks is in her future. She wanted to see for herself how fine the line between make or break, be it from tee-to-green or on those 10-12 foot putts that, at least for Hackworthy over the final 36 holes, seemed to be running 2-to-1 in close-but-no-cigar results.
In turn, other young Wisconsin golfers can learn not only from Hackworthy's experience this week, but those of Madison's Jessie Gerry and Kohler's Jenna Peters, both seasoned Symetra Tour veterans who missed the 54-hole cut.
Remember that Hackworthy won her third straight Wisconsin Women's State Open title in June by two shots over Peters. No one else in the 59-player field at Stevens Point CC was within eight shots of the champion.
Like it or not, the odds of surviving on the Symetra Tour aren't great when you consider the high bar its 2019 winners have set. The average 18-hole score among champions so far is 68.16 and 38 of the 57 rounds recorded by those winners have been in the 60s.
Those are just some of the numbers Hackworthy and her family will crunch over the next nine months between now and graduation. Playing in this qualifier assures Hackworthy of at least limited status on the Symetra Tour in 2020 ahead of most of the 224 golfers she beat this week, although history suggests that could be fewer than five starts.
For now, Hackworthy plans to ride the confidence she gained in the Coachella Valley right into the start of practice with the Badgers this week at University Ridge. She is the lone senior on a roster that features four juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.
"This was an awesome week and a really cool opportunity for me," Hackworthy said. "I enjoyed every moment of it. There were some tough times, but when you go through a week like this there are going to be some tough times. How you manage them is going to determine the outcome you're going to get. I'm just really happy that I came here, to be able to experience this.
"I definitely have a lot more hope for myself and my game. I had a lot of questions going into this week. This gave me a lot more confidence in my game. I think right now, the focus is on my team back home and my senior season. We'll kind of re-visit these decisions later on."