Gaby Lopez was utterly bewildered by a bad swing. A few minutes later, she was pumping her fist with gusto.. A few minutes after that, she stood laughing at herself because the alternative was to cry.
In the span of the last three holes on Saturday, while trying to keep her position at the top of a crowded leader board in the CME Group Tour Championship, Lopez went through all the emotions golf can dish out. Ultimately, her double bogey-eagle-bogey finish—how many times have you seen that one?—gave Lopez a score of three-under par 69 and put the two-time LPGA winner in a tie for fifth, one shot off the lead of the four players on the lead.
Lopez was pleased with how she rode the rollercoaster.
“I tried to stay calm all day long, I tried to stay calm throughout the tournament,” she said. “Sometimes when I bring this emotion I just can’t stop it.
“I feel that I dragged it into 18. It was hard to keep it together. But at the same time, it’s something that I love from my game, something I embrace so much. I’m sure that I’m going to learn from it. I know I’m going to have the discipline next time to calm down. But it’s exciting. I love this position. I love to see myself grow.”
The fiery 28-year-old from Mexico had to tell herself to keep her emotions in check when she hit a “terrible” 7-iron well right of the green and into the water at the par-3 16th, and Lopez’s double bogey dropped her two shots out of the lead.
Talk about a bounce back. At the par-5 17th, Lopez’s 5-iron second shot found the fringe, and from there she made a long putt, yelling and pumping her fist immediately after the ball tipped into the cup.
“I was just excited as you could be,” Lopez said. “But I repeat: It’s something that I love from my game, something that I love from my personality. I feel that the more emotions we show on tour the better. I don’t know, I think the game just becomes more interesting.”
Lopez hit a big drive at the 18th and had a wedge in her hand. But she chunked the approach, came up short and the ball rolled back into the lake fronting the green. The bank was shaved so tightly that even a drop and placement was made perilous—so much so that the fans cheered when Lopez found a spot on which the ball actually stayed without rolling.
From there, her seemingly rushed chip settled a few feet from the cup, and Lopez finished off a critical bogey save.
“I love this position. I love to see myself grow,” Lopez said. “I think that I’ve grown so much through the years, and having this opportunity [on Sunday] to have one shot back and be able to hit exactly the shots that I been wanting, been picturing, visualizing, it’s just really exciting.”