Michelena gets a big chance

By Todd Fuqua

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso junior Alexandra Michelena, far left, stands with her teammates at last year's District 3/4-4A/1A tournament. This year, Michelena has an opportunity to play with the pros at the Volunteers of American Texas Shootout.

RUIDOSO – It’s the chance of a lifetime for one Ruidoso golfer, and she’s going to take that chance, even if it’s coming at one of the most stressful times of the school year.

Warrior junior Alexandra Michelena has been selected to take part in a unique pro-am noncompetitive round of golf at the Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, all as part of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout LPGA tournament in early May.

Michelena was recommended to the tournament by Judy Rankin, an LPGA Hall of Famer and golf commentator for ABC and ESPN.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso junior Alexandra Michelena follows her shot during the second round of last year’s Leroy Gooch tournament at Cree Meadows Country Club. Michelena will head to the Dallas area this season to take part in a rare opportunity to play with the pros at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.

Rankin – who lives in Midland, Texas – also happens to be a member at The Outlaw and Alto country clubs.

“She was there during the summer and came out to watch me play,” Michelena said of Rankin. “She introduced herself and thought that I’d be a good contender for this.”

While the actual Texas Shootout competitive rounds are scheduled for May 3-6, there are events going on all week long, including one round in which promising high school amateurs are paired with pros for one day on May 2.

“There’s no guaranteed tee time, so it’s either in the morning or afternoon,” Michelena said. “I play with one pro on the front nine, at the turn we switch and I play with a different pro on the back nine.”

There’s won’t be a trophy or any kind of prize, other than the invaluable experience Michelena will get by playing with a genuine LPGA player.

“It’s not really a tournament for me, it’s more of an experience to get out there an meet the pros,” Michelena said.

It could be intimidating, both because she’ll be meeting pro players up close and personal, and because she’s be playing on what could be the most challenging course of her life.

But she’s already made progress in both of those areas, having met with Goddard High graduate and LPGA pro Gerina Pillar.

“That calmed me down,” Michelena said. “Thinking about these pro players can be very intimidating, but she’s very sweet and I’ve heard a lot about all these pros. I’m not as intimidated as I thought I’d be.”

As for the Old American Golf Club, Michelena views it as a challenge, but not one she’s afraid to take on.

“I’ve played a lot of difficult courses, and I know that when I go to The Colony, I can’t think about that,” Michelena said. “It’s just 18 different holes, and you have to play your game. It doesn’t matter how hard it is, it’s just how you play it.”

Probably the biggest concern will be the turnaround and travel for that week. The District 3/4-4A/1A tournament will be April 30 – a Monday – after which she and her family will travel to Texas to be there in time for the tournament banquet on Tuesday, May 1.

The pro-am round is May 2, and Michelena plans to see three days of the pro tournament before heading to Albuquerque to be at the Canyon Club in time for the practice round of the State tournament on May 6.

And by the way, the Michelena family will be driving the entire way.

It’s a long haul, to be sure, but it’s one Michelena is willing to make.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Michelena said. “Going out there and being able to play with the pros will teach me different things and how to handle things under pressure.

“I try not to think of it as just another tournament,” she added. “To me it’s a bigger deal than that. I know this will give me ore opportunities hopefully for college, and even if it just enhances my game to be confident and play better.”

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