Bishop Kelly High graduate Madeleine Sheils approached her pro golf career with the idea that she would build toward a spot on the LPGA Tour.
As she concludes her third season on the developmental Symetra Tour this week, Sheils senses she’s getting close.
She needs to finish at least in the top three at the Symetra Tour Championship to clinch a spot on the LPGA Tour for 2016, but she also has qualified for the final stage of qualifying school, which presents another opportunity in December.
The Tour Championship is Thursday through Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“I’m progressing really well,” Sheils said. “I was kind of reflecting on that, too, and I feel like in my third year I’m a totally different person and player than I was two years ago. I’m absolutely leaps and bounds ahead of the Maddie Sheils of 2013, so I’m really, really happy with that. I feel like I’m very much ready for the LPGA, whether I get there next year or not.”
Sheils held the lead going into the final round for the first time last week and faded to a tie for 13th when two bad drives led to double bogeys and a 74. She had a second-round and a personal-best 63 to get into contention.
Sheils is 17th on the Symetra Tour money list, thanks in part to her first career win early this season, and has finished in the top 25 in nine of her past 15 starts.
A win last week likely would have put her on the LPGA Tour next season.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “Of course, I was certainly nervous and tense. What I learned is what my tendencies are in those situations. ... As much as I didn’t want to be, I think I was in a bit of a protect mode.”
She’ll need to get back into attacking mode beginning Thursday to achieve her long-term goal.
“Regardless, I know that it’s been a great season and I’ve seen a lot of success and seen a lot of improvement,” she said. “I’m happy with that and I’m still proud of myself. I’m looking at it as I can’t fail this week.”
ALDRIDGE IN TODAY’S PGA FIELD
The PGA Tour begins its 2015-16 season Thursday in Napa, Calif. — and Treasure Valley golf fans will have plenty of rooting interests.
Tyler Aldridge of Nampa, who earned a promotion from the developmental Web.com Tour, and former Boise State golfers Troy Merritt and Graham DeLaet are in the field at the Frys.com Open.
Aldridge hasn’t played in a PGA Tour event since 2009, when he made 17 starts as a rookie member of the tour. He’s coming off a breakthrough season in which he finished in the top 25 eight times, including a win, on the Web.com Tour.