You Can Call Me “Al”

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Editor’s Note: The Rafu will be following Chelsea Curtis, a first-year player on the Duramed Futures Tour, through her blog. The Duramed Futures Tour is the LPGA developmental tour, now in its 30th year. Nearly 300 alumnae are current LPGA members and more than 500 advanced from the Futures Tour to the LPGA. Some of the top alumnae are Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb and Mina Harigae. For more information on Chelsea, go to www.chelseagolf.com

Photo by Ken Matsui Images Photography

The Maryland Open (October 2009) was a great warm up before the Futures Qualifying School. The field was more competitive than the New England Open, with girls from the Futures tour, previous players from the European tour and LPGA tour, and other good players in my position about to head to Qualifying School.

On my drives to the golf course before a tournament, I like to listen to pump-up music. This week, I became obsessed with an old song my dad used to listen to when I was much younger. (It was probably the one and only song we could agree on.) It was You Can Call Me Al, by Paul Simon. Completely random, I know, but it has a great, happy, pumped-up beat to it. I love the song, but I am confused by the lyrics. They make absolutely no sense. In an attempt to understand, I googled the song and how it was inspired. According to most sites, Paul Simon was influenced by African music and thought of the title because someone at a party kept calling him and his wife Betty and Al, but this explanation does not explain all of the lyrics. Here’s the chorus, “If you’ll be my body guard, I can be your long lost pal. I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al.” If you listen to the other verses it’s even more confusing. Even though I am perplexed by the wording, I still can’t help but listen to the song.

My two instructors and mentors are Patty (my coach at Georgetown) and her husband Brendon Post. I have learned and improved so much under their tutelage and continue to do so. Brendon offered to caddy for me in the tournament and I was excited for the chance to have him watch me in competition.
The first day of the event was cold but sunny. Brendon and I took separate cars as I headed to the course early to warm-up before the round. As my 11:20am tee time drew closer, Brendon was nowhere to be found. 11:00am, no Brendon. 11:10am, I am at the first tee introducing myself and hearing the rules from the starter, and no Brendon. 11:13am, I turn to the rules official and ask, “So, what happens if your caddy can’t tell time and is late? Can he still join up with me?” It was a relieving yes, but would Brendon show up? 11:20am, I teed off and our group was underway. I hit my approach shot in a green side bunker and as I headed for the trap, I saw Brendon scurrying across the parking lot and over to the green. Filled with apologies, I could only laugh. He could have shown up on the 15th hole for all I cared, I was already appreciative that he would use his two days off to carry my bag.

My first round I played with a girl who had been on the Futures tour for two years and a very interesting woman I will nickname Safari Lady. Safari Lady wore a safari hat, hence the nickname, and shot 103. I was happy I was able to disconnect myself from her game because it is easy to become impatient with playing partners who maybe should not be playing in such an event. My tee shots and chipping were the highlights of the day, with my approach shots being mediocre at best. I shot 76 without a single birdie, a decent score if you don’t take any subpar holes.

The second and final round Brendon showed up on time. I scored better, 73, but my front 9 was less than impressive with a 39. Making the turn, I knew that I was not fully committing and trusting my swing to produce shots. Brendon agreed, and after a pep talk on the 10th hole, I pulled it together and fired a 34. I finished tied for seventh. While I did not play my best, I was happy with another top 10 finish in my second and more competitive professional tournament. I hit some great shots and I had some poorly executed shots, but it was another great tournament experience to get ready for Futures Qualifying. And, I am 2-for-2 in making a check, this time for $350.

When the awards ceremony began, they first announced and awarded people who had hole-in-ones. The first person awarded, Safari Lady! She did not have a par all day, but she had a hole-in-one. Still sporting the oversized brimmed hat, she accepted her award.
Then, they began awarding checks to the top 11 finishers.
When seventh place was announced, myself and one other girl stepped forward. There were three checks. It appeared the third girl had left early and decided to just wait for the tournament director to mail her the check.

The blond haired girl went first, flashed her pearly whites and said her name to receive her check.
My turn. I stepped up, smiling with my name fully formed in my mouth bursting to come out, but before I could say a word, I was handed a check. It was made out to Julia Choi (made up, but similar with the ethnic last name). I immediately laughed, handed it back and said, “No, my name is Chelsea Curtis.” With what may have been slight embarrassment she scuffled around and handed me the correct check.
I am quite used to this type of incidence, mainly because it occurs more often than you’d think. It seems that my name deceives my face and my face deceives my name. I understand, I mean, Chelsea Curtis, that sounds like a blond haired, blue-eyed All-American type. Not really your half-Asian variety. I am like a puzzle (more specifically a Sudoku puzzle) wrapped tightly in enigma.

Well, next time Check Lady, I can call you Betty, and Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al … Choi.

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