FORT WAYNE – Amanda Blumenhersts memories of this city run deep.
The former Fort Wayne resident, now an LPGA Tour golfer, remembers winning the 8-and-under crown at McMillen Park Golf Course and being extremely excited to have that trophy.
Though she didnt spend all of her childhood in the area, Fort Wayne feels like home. And her homecoming at McMillen Park on Friday for a free golf clinic was a special occasion for Blumenherst.
I absolutely love coming back every year, she said. Ive started to see the same faces over and over again.
This time around, she wasnt the kid with professional golf dreams. She was the one giving tips, letting kids see her clubs and fielding pleas from some to hold her bag.
Its so great seeing little 8-year-olds, or seeing 15-year-olds, or 5-year-olds running around and seeing that they have an interest in the game, she said. Just seeing how excited they get to be around golf is thrilling.
Her return to Fort Wayne felt much the same. But the professional circuit this year has been less magnificent.
Blumenherst has missed the cut in seven of her 11 tournament appearances this season. This year, she hasnt added to her six professional top-10 finishes.
It has been disappointing, Blumenherst said, but she can see progress in her game.
I had higher expectations for myself, she said. Theres definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. I see it coming, getting pieced together. So hopefully I can put a good end of the season together.
Blumenherst finished tied for 13th – her best finish this season – at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on May 31 through June 2 in Galloway, N.J.
In her most recent tournament, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on June 21 through 23 in Rogers, Ark., Blumenherst finished tied for 70th and took home money for the fourth time this season.
Hitting the fairways has been Blumenhersts biggest problem, she said, but she has worked to improve her driving and seen the benefits lately.
I just have not been hitting it very straight off the tee, and its hard to make birdies from behind a tree, she said. Just being more confident with my swing, being more confident off the first tee has been something Ive had to work on this year.
Next year, she hopes, she will return to Fort Wayne with more to celebrate than a trip home.
The 26-year-old Duke graduate, three years into her pro career, is searching for her first LPGA title.
Its been a little bit more of an adjustment than I thought, she said. Its been a little bit more difficult. My games coming together right now. Ive had some good rounds this year.