Wednesday Jul 08 2009
Rocklin's Nichols gets taste of pro golf
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
Rocklin’s Tracy Nichols now has a taste of what it’s like to be a professional golfer. The Rocklin High graduate, 26, has played in two recent tournaments on the Canadian Women’s Tour and she will play in a third one next week in Montreal. Each of the three tournaments are two days. She played for the first time as a professional in Vancouver in late May and ended up finishing 22nd and in the money. She moved up 22 places on the second day of the tournament, which happened to be her birthday. The top 30 golfers, among the 70 professionals that participate, earn money in these tournaments. “It felt different,” said Nichols about earning her first check as a golfer. “It felt rewarding and I have the desire to make more. It (the check) was enough to cover my hotel. Barely.” She then played in the second tournament in June in Gwelph, Ontario. “It was a little bit rocky. I was going through some personal stuff and I didn’t have it together and the conditions were hardcore,” she said. “There were 25-to-30 mile per hour winds and it was 40-to-50 degrees and raining. The scores were not that low, only one woman shot under par.” Despite all this, Nichols only finished one or two strokes out of the money. “I always try my best regardless of what is going on and I am not a quitter by any means,” Nichols said. The third and final tournament is next week in Nichols’ hometown of Montreal. She was born there and lived there for seven years before living in Chicago for three and then heading west to Rocklin. She will leave for Montreal on Saturday and the tournament will be played Tuesday and Wednesday. She hasn’t been back to Montreal in about 10 years so she will get to catch up with lots of family and friends while up north. “My mom is from Ottawa and I have aunts and uncles and godparents and all those people that I haven’t seen in so long,” she said. “So it’s going to be really cool and a couple (family members) will come watch (the tournament).” The other Canadian Women’s Tour event of the year is the Canadian Women’s Open in September. Nichols would have to place first or second in next week’s tournament in order to automatically qualify for that. Her goal for this Montreal tournament is no different than her goal for any other. “My goal whenever I play golf is not to beat everyone playing but to beat the course,” she said. “Just don’t let it get to your head and just take it one stroke at a time.” Nichols has noticed that playing as a pro feels different than competing as an amateur. “There is a little bit of pressure added — a little bit about performance and scoring,” she said. “I don’t want to be that person that is behind the pack. That is not how I want to be. There is that money factor — I am almost out of my sponsorship money. This is the last tournament of the season that I can afford unless I find sponsors.” Her father Alan Nichols has been her caddy and coach for the last 20 years. “I’m a certified professional caddy,” said Alan, joking about his experience carrying the bags during Tracy’s two professional tournaments. “She has matured a lot on and off the course. She knows that every shot counts and when you are a pro, bogeys you can handle and with double bogeys you are dead. “Her game is as good or better than anybody she has played with so far on tour and a couple of bounces here or there, and you can go from 40th to third. It’s really weird to look at the scores.” Nichols is planning on going to Futures “Q” School in Florida. Those who qualify from this tournament earn a Futures Tour membership for the following season. “The thing is, the LPGA (Tour) just lost over half of its tournaments and there are only 17 or 18 left,” said Alan Nichols, explaining why Futures is a better option than the LPGA for Tracy. “And there are no spots available. All the Asian and all the European tour players will be involved in the LPGA. So the only place (for Tracy) to go is the Futures. There is nowhere else to go.” The Futures Tour has 18 events a year, all east of the Mississippi. “Tracy’s really done a good job this year and she’s dedicated herself to it and I have a feeling she’ll do fine,” Alan said. “She just has to have a place to play and there is absolutely nothing on the west coast.” Nichols, who has won the Sacramento County Women’s Championship for the last three years, made it public in May that she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “I was diagnosed (with ADHD) when I was 8,” said Nichols, the former MVP for the Sacramento State golf team. “I thought people would like to know that people can be successful with some form of disability . . . People say ‘you are doing a great job’ and ‘it’s neat that you can do that.’ I’ve gotten some good responses.” Nichols has been the lead coach and program coordinator for The First Tee of Greater Sacramento for two years. The youth program is for ages 5-to-17 at William Land Park Gold Course in Sacramento. Anyone interested in sponsoring Nichols should email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email Alan Nichols at nicholsalan@-hotmail.com.