Symetra Tour — Article
Costabile Closer To Her LPGA Dream
Canadian Selena Costabile — a multi-talented woman to be sure — is one step away from her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.
By Lorne Rubenstein
DECEMBER 6, 2021
Regular readers here might recall a piece I wrote nearly four years ago about Thornhill, Ont.’s Selena Costabile. She was a 19-year-old starting her career as a tour pro then and wanted to reach the LPGA Tour. She now has an excellent chance of getting there, given that she got through the second stage of LPGA Tour qualifying school that ended October 24th. Selena therefore qualified for the final Q-School that starts December 2nd and ends December 12th.
That’s right: two weeks of the qualifying tournament, 72 holes in each week on the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Golf Trail in Alabama. The sites are three hours apart by car. There’s a cut following the first 72 holes. You’d have to be Houdini to be able to navigate the LPGA Tour information about the Q-Series, as the finals are called, but Selena did say that only 100 players make it to the final 144 holes. Those tying for 45th or better will win their LPGA Tour cards, so the tournaments comprise quite an opportunity for the players. Canadians Jaclyn Lee and Maddie Szeryk have also made it to the Q-Series. Trying to qualify for the LPGA Tour is quite a financial undertaking, amounting to $6,000 (US) for the various stages alone.
The second stage was held October 21-24 in Venice, Fla. Selena entered the final round tied for 63rd, and needed to get to 44th to make it to the Q-Series. She birdied six holes in the last round, and made only one bogey, on the 18th hole. Her 67 moved to a tie for 29th.
“I felt so calm all day,” Selena said last week when we met at The Thornhill Club, where she is a member. She was in town for a few days and had just come over to the club after having a lesson with Gord Burns at the Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club. Burns had tied for second the day before in the PGA Head Professional Championship of Canada at Lookout Point in Fonthill, Ont. Nick Kenney of the National Golf Club of Canada won the $9,000 first prize with rounds of 69-68, while Burns and fellow professional Danny King, who teaches at the Magna Golf Club, were four shots behind, each winning $5,000.
Selena has been working with Burns since August. Her partner and fellow tour pro Chris Wilson, who also plays out of Thornhill, had been playing well all summer while working with Burns, and will try to qualify for next year’s Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada. Selena had been having some down times on the Symetra Tour, sprinkled with some very good play, and decided she needed help. She decided to consult Burns, having seen him a few times in recent years. (She and Chris, by the way, have rented an apartment in Boynton Beach, Fla., which is now their base. I might add that Wilson’s mother Laura was appointed Golf Canada’s new director for diversity, inclusion and safe sport in July.)
“Gord is an awesome player,” Selena said as we chatted at Thornhill. “I was a bit lost in the summer, trying 100 different things on the Symetra. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others in golf. You see this player who is doing really well and you wonder what they’re doing that you’re not. You see somebody outdrive you by 30 yards, you think you should be doing that. You see somebody making the LPGA in one year, you wonder, why not me? I didn’t know what I should be working on.”
From Burns, she learned her swing was fine. She had missed a bunch of cuts in a row, and some during the year by only a shot. It was all too easy to question herself. Burns helped her trust herself. Her next Symetra event was in Worley, Idaho the last week of August. She shot 66 in the second and middle round, her best round of the year, and finished nine under for the tournament in a tie for 23rd.
“It was just approaching golf as more of a simple game as opposed to trying 20 different things,” she said. “I saw Gord again in September before the final stretch, and he helped me with my mental game and ball-striking.”
Then came the second stage of LPGA qualifying.
“I knew I had to shoot a low number the last day, but I’d also shot three under the week before, where I missed the cut by one [at the Symetra Tour Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.).” She shot 67 there in the second round.
“I thought, I’ve shot low scores before, so why couldn’t I shoot another low score?” she said about her approach to the final round at LPGA second stage. “It was a great day. I hit 17 greens.”
While Selena gave a lot of credit to her work with Burns, it also helps that she and Chris are both trying to make their way playing the game for a living. They know the feelings they each experience on the course, and the way golf can mess with one’s mind.
She also credits short-game instructor Gareth Raflewski, who teaches out of the RiverBend Golf Club in London, Ont., and former tour pro (and son of Golf Canada president Liz Hoffman) Matt Hoffman, with helping her over the course of her still short professional career. Raflewski works with many top players, including the current World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, while Hoffman is the director of sports performance in the golf program at the University of Michigan. There was also financial support when the Golf Journalists Association of Canada awarded her its 2020 player bursary of $3,000. It really does take a village.