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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Updated: January 17, 4:44 PM ET
The Long Shot: Episode 6

By Sara Turcotte
ESPN The Magazine

I've been so focused on getting my game in shape for my first foray into the LPGA -- at the Michelob Ultra Open this May -- I almost forgot how nervous I'll be when I actually make my first foray into the LPGA this May. I haven't played a truly competitive round since my college days at UNC, and while I have no illusions of quitting my day job, I certainly don't want to embarrass myself when I tee it up with the world's best. Luckily, tour star Natalie Gulbis invited me to her home course in Las Vegas this month and offered some tips on holding my own with the pros.

Tip 1: Nerves are good
The biggest difference between experienced players and rookies is that veterans channel their nervous energy and turn it into intensity, while new players are just overwhelmed by it. It's important to be prepared, as the atmosphere can be pretty charged come Thursday. You should play as much competitive golf as possible between now and May.

Tip 2: 100 yards and in is the name of the game
Kingsmill is one of the hardest courses we play. It's really long and is often set up like a major, so you're definitely going to miss some greens. Getting up and down is key. If you're practicing for, say, four hours, spend one hour on the putting green, one hour on the range and two hours hitting a variety of wedges into greens.

Tip 3: Have a short memory
The best advice I can give is to stay in the present. Mistakes happen to everyone, pro and amateur alike. You have to forget them, because they'll be gone, but you'll still be out there playing. And really try to relax and have fun. There'll be tons of cool stuff happening that whole week, and it's important to enjoy it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

ESPN The Magazine editor Sarah Turcotte will be competing in the Michelob Ultra Open this May. E-mail your A tips to Sarah at thelongshot@espn.go.com.