May 6, 2007 (UPDATED: May 9, 3 PM PST) –Las Vegas native Stephanie Louden had the best week of the four LPGA players who live in Las Vegas. She stood in a four-way tie for the lead entering the final round of the SemGroup Championship, but fired a final round 74 to fall back into a tie for fifth place. Amazingly, she was the fourth alternate, and only got into the event when Annika Sorenstam elected not to play at the last minute. Louden took full advantage. Louden, who is teeing it up in the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill May 11-13, says that her putter was the difference, and that after a re-shuffle in the rankings following this event, she should be in position to play in all four majors, and some of the other bigger events. "I started working on my putting with Dr. Craig Farnsworth before last year's British Open, and it's good to really see my putting come together," Louden says about her sessions with Farnsworth, who some call the "The Putt Doctor."
Getting in the event at the last minute was also a great blessing for Louden.
"With my status I am an alternate," Louden said about getting in at the last minute. "You get slotted wherever you finished last year. So the girl who finished ahead of me last year was already in because of somebody else. … And it's an interesting story because I didn't think I was going to get in. There were three girls ahead of me and I was getting ready to go out, and all of a sudden she called me and I was the 4th alternate, so ultimately the other girls weren't on site, and I happened to be. I got a 10 minute warm up, 5 for hitting balls and 5 for putting and then (went) to the tee. It was a blessing to get in and play because I hadn't played early on this year and wanted to get out and try it. It's been fun."
Louden also says she has been making swing changes with Butch Harmon School of Golf Pro Shawn Callahan, and that the results are starting to show. The two are focusing on having Louden start her down swing more with her legs than her arms, and they have also changed her ball flight from a fade to a slight draw.
"I have more control now, especially in the wind, and Shawn has been a great help," says Louden.
Louden has also made a switch in the caddie department as her husband, Mike, has landed the bag of fellow competitor Wendy Ward, a Solheim Cup player. Ironically, Mike's last stint on the bag was last week. "He told me, 'You have your best finish, and then you fire me,'" says Louden jokingly of the mutually beneficial decision.
Mike will still carry Louden's bag on Ward's off weeks.
Stephanie has also stayed very busy as part of the Players Executive Committee, and hinted that there are some very exciting things that will be announced soon, but wouldn't divulge any more details.
All four LPGA Tour Las Vegas golfers who live in Las Vegas played in the LPGA Tour's SemGroup Championship at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Oklahoma. Louden, a member of the LPGA Executive Players committee, Kim Hall, a Stanford graduate who recently moved to Las Vegas, Erica Blasberg, a Southern California native who plays out of Las Vegas golf course TPC Canyons, and Natalie Gulbis, who lives and plays out of Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas Resort, all teed it up.
Louden grew up playing Las Vegas golf course Las Vegas Golf Club, and now plays out of Las Vegas golf course Canyon Gate Country Club, where her father, Larry, is a member.
Read Louden's official second round press conference … Now.
Unfortunately, Louden struggled early in the final round and was three-over through seven holes, but got it together and managed ber best finish of her career, and she earned $44,591. The new official money list wasn't available at the time of this writing, but heading into the event she was 158th on the list. With her finish, she will be around 55th heading into her next event. She also wasn't fully exempt this year, and her top 10 finish will help in that regard as well.
Louden had never been in the position she was in after the second round, but was ready for it. After the second round she said the following about finally being in a position to win.
"Ultimately, this is what I work for. This is (what) all the days of grinding it out (are about)."
Official LPGA Tour Money List
The others tied for the lead after the second round were Reilley Rankin, Nicole Castrale (Stephanie played junior golf with here) and Karin Sjodin.
"It's fun," Louden told the media following Saturday's second round. "We just watched the Kentucky Derby. You want to see everybody in it until the end. There's birdies to be made out there, and if you can make some good pars, it makes it fun for the crowd and the fans."
Official Las Vegas Golf Course tee time information and websites