Brandie Burton Looking To End Three-Year Victory Drought
SOMERS POINT, N.J. (AP) _ The way Brandie Burton started her LPGA career in 1991, it seemed like she was destined to win a couple of tournaments a year.
The 24-year-old won once in her second year on tour and three times the following year, 1993.
Surprisingly, she hasn’t won since, although she has been getting close in recent weeks, with a third in the U.S. Open and a playoff loss in Minnesota two weeks ago.
``I don’t know, I might have worked myself in the ground a little bit the last couple of years and didn’t enjoy what I was doing,″ Burton said after playing in a pro-am for the ShopRite LPGA Classic, which gets under way Friday at the Greate Bay Country Club.
``I’ve made a lot of changes in my game working with other people recently, just trying to find some balance instead of golf being 110 percent of my life,″ she added.
The big changes for Burton have been working with Senior PGA Tour veteran Dave Stockton on her swing and spending time on her mental approach with sports psychologist Deborah Graham.
Stockton has tried to get the long-hitting Burton to use more than her natural right-to-left draw.
``Now I can play a fade or a low hook or a big draw or a slight draw,″ said Burton, a Rialto, Calif., resident. ``I can play more percentage shots to the green. I can be a lot more creative. He’s helped with my putting and with shots around the green as well.″
Graham has worked on Burton’s self-confidence and tried to bring more balance in her life. The days of hitting bucket after bucket of golf balls on the practice range are over, or at least tempered.
``It’s really difficult for me because I love to sit out there and bang balls,″ said Burton, who has earned an average of $311,000 in her first five years on the LPGA Tour, but no more than $214,000 the past two years. ``But after a while, it become no fun and that’s when I decided I needed to change something.″
Burton is currently on a six-week playing stretch, which she admits is longer than she likes. She is also coming into this event after playing in a tournament in France, where she did not play well.
Still, she likes her chances on the bayside course where the wind can be as troublesome as the undulating greens. She has played well here and had chances to win.
``The course is in great shape,″ Burton said. ``The greens are rolling nice. It would be really nice to have a week without rain. We’ve seemingly have brought it where ever we’ve been.″
She has earned $194,963 in 13 events this year, with three Top Five finishes.
``Hopefully, it will happen soon,″ she said when asked about going three years without a win. ``The biggest part is I’m enjoying it again, being out here. I think it’s just a matter of time for it to happen, really. You’ve got to roll with the punches and hopefully it will happen.″
Nine of the 10 top money winners on this year’s LPGA Tour are entered in the 54-hole event, which was won last year by Betsy King, a triumph that propelled her into the LPGA Hall of Fame.