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GOLF's Jessica Marksbury Plays the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur: Practice Day 2

Photo: Jessica Marksbury

Author Jessica Marksbury during practice day 2 at the 2015 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur.

Practice Day 2 is in the books here in Choudrant, and now all that's left to do is play this thing!

I had a much greater sense of focus at the course today. I had a good session on the range and felt a lot more confident with my ballstriking than I did yesterday. We worked in the short game area for well over an hour and I felt pretty good there too. My only problem? Bunkers. I've never been a great bunker player, always just okay, but for whatever reason, the sand here has my number. It's coarse and thick, kind of like playground sand, and I spent more time trying to work it out than I care to admit. I actually would probably still be in there if it hadn't been time to play my second practice round.

Photo:

The author works on her bunker game on Friday.

My group had teed off on the 10th hole again, so I waited to catch them when they made the turn to the first tee. As I said yesterday, it was always my intention to play only nine holes each day, and I'm REALLY glad I stuck to that game plan. Squire Creek is a pretty tough walk with lots of elevation, and I felt I needed to conserve every possible bit of energy.

The front side is much like the back: TOUGH. The wind was strong yesterday afternoon and reinforced our belief that this is going to be a short game test more than anything else. The greens are massive and undulating and fast and firm and have inspired great fear in the hearts of this week's competitors. I'm not feeling too worried about them -- Paul is a green-reading savant, and I have too much bunker dread occupying my thoughts to worry about much else.

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Paul and I returned to the practice bunker after the round and stayed until they kicked us out because the player dinner was about to begin. I'm feeling a bit better -- I made a bit of progress and we plan to fine-tune my technique in the morning before my round. After a quick change, we made it to the player dinner, which was lovely: a jacket and tie affair set in an outdoor courtyard, and featuring an outstanding and hilarious speech from last year's champion, Margaret Shirley.

Photo:

Jessica and husband/caddie Paul at the player's dinner Friday night.

Tomorrow's the big day, and I tee off bright and early at 8:10 a.m. local time off No. 10. My playing partners: two women with incredible amateur championship credentials, Martha Leach and Patricia Cornett. I'm honored to be paired with them and look forward to watching them attack this golf course.

So that's it then! I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I'm so grateful for the support I've received. Play happy, and avoid disaster -- that's my manta for Saturday! I promise I'll keep you posted, for better or for worse!

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