VIENNA -- The question needed to be asked. Beth Bader just tied the Squaw Creek course record with a 64, making a tough birdie putt from 6 feet on her finishing ninth hole.
This from a player, in her second year on the LPGA Tour, whose previous career low was 66 and had missed the cut in each of her last six tournaments.
And so the question needed to be asked.
Where did this come from?
"I decided to change my attitude a little bit," said Bader, who tied the tournament record and set a competitive course record with her 8-under par round. She was later joined at 64 by Kelly Robbins before a rain delay.
Numbers don't add up
Bader ranks in the top 30 on tour in drive average (257.1 yards) and putting average (29.27 per round), which curiously hasn't translated into scoring (141st) or money (149th).
"I hope this round tells what kind of player I am," she said. "I roll the ball well and hit iron shots."
Consistency, then, has been Bader's undoing. That and staying grounded emotionally on the course. That's always easier said than done for a player in just her sophomore year on tour.
"I've had some ups and downs, it's not going where I want it," she said.
"I need to chill out, relax and have fun with it."
Faded from start
That's something Bader didn't do the last time she was in this situation. At the LPGA Corning Classic in late May, she opened with a 66, then ballooned to a 77 in the second round. She made the cut, but had back-to-back rounds of 74 on Saturday and Sunday.
"It didn't turn out too well. I was nervous [at Corning]," said Bader, explaining that part of her nerves came from a microphone The Golf Channel outfitted her with a wireless microphone for its second-round coverage.
"My consistency comes from keeping my swing consistent," she continued. "Before I would tend to became tentative with my swing.
"I know that it's the putts you really have to make," added Bader. "You want to end [each hole] on a good note."
Just imagine the round Bader could have fashioned had she played the par-5 holes a little better. She birdied No. 2, but got in trouble with her drives on both No. 5 and No. 13 and finished with bogey-6s on each.
"I was plus-one on the par-5s today and that's what has been bothering me the past few weeks," she said. "To me the par 5s should be to my advantage."
Too much effort
Bader was referring to her ability as one of the longest hitters on the tour, but knowing she can grip it and rip it has actually worked to her detriment.
"I think I actually put too much effort into them," she said. "I think I've played it smart, though, but I hit it too hard. It's something I really need to figure out."
Once she does, Bader could become a weekly player to contend with on tour. She doesn't lack for confidence.
"I feel I could go out and shoot it [a 64] again [today]," she said. "As far as my swing goes, I feel solid, more sturdy.
"I've had a few good days to look at the course and play it, so I feel I could go out and shoot it [a 64] again [today]. I can keep competitive. I can really play out here."
And how does it feel to be, really for the first time as a professional, as the player with the target on her back, the first-round leader?
"I don't know, I don't really care," she said. "I'm not too concerned about it. I just want to go out and play the next two days to where I feel I've accomplished something."
XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.