Karen Stupples gets back inside the ropes with her sweetheart calling the shots


FRENCH LICK, Ind. – Jerry Foltz could barely watch Karen Stupples strike her first tee shot at the Senior LPGA Championship. Water down the left, fescue and a fairway bunker down the right from an elevated, exposed tee at French Lick’s Pete Dye Course.

It’s tough to say whose heart was beating faster.

Stupples piped her opening drive in her first senior major, and Foltz went back to ready himself for work as the on-course reporter for her group. When he returned to call the action for Golf Channel on the par-5 seventh, he watched her miss the green in two and take five more shots from 20 yards for a double-bogey seven.

He was gutted.

“OK, I’ve black-catted the one I love,” said Foltz. “Because of late, every time I join a group, no matter who it is, the last five or six tournaments, they struggle.”

Jerry Foltz and Karen Stupples. (Rick Sharp)

At that point, he wanted to follow anyone on the course but Stupples. Another double-bogey on the par-5 14th proved just as painful.

Stupples, a Golf Channel analyst and major winner, birdied the last two holes to shoot 77. She found comfort in looking over at Foltz along the rope line, even when her game went a bit sideways. This was something she had envisioned for a long time, her significant other commentating on her round.

Of course, in her mind it ended with a sunny interview after a stellar round. It didn’t turn out that way this time, but she soaked up the moment regardless.

“I had to call ’em as I saw ’em, as brutal as it was,” said Foltz, “tugging at my heartstrings watching (her) struggle at times.”

It’s exactly what Stupples expected of him.

“When I’m talking about players myself, I put myself in their shoes and if it’s a fair comment, you’ve got to say it,” said Stupples. “You can’t wrap them in cotton wool, because that’s not giving them the respect they deserve.”

Karen Stupples and Jerry Foltz enjoy a meal together in Evian, France. (Beth Ann Nichols/ Golfweek)

Stupples was in fine spirits after the round, viewing the chance to get back inside the ropes as a plus for her day job, putting her back in touch with the gamut of emotions players experience during the course of a round.

“Makes me appreciate just how fine a line it is between good golf and bad golf,” she said.

Stupples won twice on the LPGA in 2004, including the AIG Women’s British Open. Back home in Florida, the couple got in several rounds to prepare for this week and Stupples said the game seemed so easy. An added bonus: The pro-am was the first time in a long time that she didn’t feel back pain.

“Then all of a sudden when you’re under pressure, and you’re on this golf course in particular, and it just messes with your head,” said Stupples, “and you’re like ‘Where did that come from?’ And then you’re mad at yourself because you think you can do better. But what I have to remind myself is that this is the 2019 version of me. This isn’t the 2004 version of me, the one that played golf all the time. I just don’t work at my golf the way I used to, therefore how should I and why should I expect it to be any different?”

Foltz shot back with: “It could’ve been eight shots better today.”

“Yeh, maybe so,” replied Stupples, smiling.

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