Senior staff writer
Erica Shepherd’s up-and-down season on the links continued last week at the LPGA’s Indy Women in Tech Championship at Brickyard Crossing in Speedway. The Center Grove High School senior finished the final round Sunday as the only amateur among the 144-player field. She fired a 5-under par 67 Aug. 13 to qualify for the tourney.
The 2017 U.S. Junior champion played Thursday through Saturday in various conditions with rounds of 71-67-75-76 – 289 (one-over par), pointing out it was typical of her season. Shepherd was aiming at top 35 finish after 36 holes but fell off pace Saturday and Sunday.
“It definitely has been a roller coaster year,” she said. “Last year was a peak; this year is more of a valley.” She was penalized a controversial two strokes for slow play on the fifth hole Saturday. Nevertheless, the two-time Indiana Junior champion achieved one of her summer tour goals of playing the IWiT for the second time.
“Getting into an LPGA event makes this summer pretty solid,” said Shepherd after being congratulated by family and supporters. “This is playing at home for me, although it’s not a course I play a lot. Just to live a normal life at home, wake up, play in an LPGA event and go home is pretty surreal.”
Her biggest disappointment this year was when she didn't successfully defend her U.S. Girls Junior golf championship in California, where she was eliminated in the second round of match play. She bounced back for the IWiT.
“I worked on a lot of little things,” Shepherd said. “I was gone the whole month of July playing in tournaments; then I had a week at home before this. I took that week to practice on a lot of little things. I think that helped me get off to a good start.”
She has been in class only three days, a schedule that won’t lighten up. “I won’t feel like a student until I return from fall break in the middle of October,” Shepherd said. “I’m looking forward to getting into that routine again.” A member of the Ryder Cup junior girls team, she will compete against European players in Paris Sept. 24 and 25.