SANTA FE — She was born in Canada, has lived all over the country and has traveled to many more places during her golfing career.
But for ex-University of New Mexico golfer Tara Fleming, being in New Mexico for the USGA Women’s State Team Championship “feels like being home again. I was excited when I saw this on the schedule two years ago, and I hoped I would get picked to play.”
Fleming, who made the semifinals before losing in this year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, shot a 3-over-par 75 in Wednesday’s second round for New Jersey. She had a 77 in Tuesday’s first round for an 8-over 152.
Her scores have counted for the New Jersey team total each round (the top two count for each three-member team). New Jersey is 18 over and has made the cut of the top 21 teams heading into today’s final round.
“It’s exciting,” said Fleming, 50 on Wednesday. “I didn’t play very well on Tuesday, but the goal was to make the cut and it looks like we’re there.”
A 48-minute rain delay prevented the field from finishing the second round Wednesday, but New Jersey played in the morning and did finish.
Fleming, a Toronto native who grew up in Houston, was a high school basketball player-turned college golf standout in the 1980s. She was a walk-on at UNM, but soon turned it on.
“It was a great time,” Fleming said. “We had so much fun on those teams. My last season was 1986-87; then I left UNM in ’89. I got my (LPGA) Tour card in 18 months after that.”
Fleming, who finished 12th in the NCAA Championship in 1988 and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open that year, played on the LPGA Tour in 1991-93 and ’96.
She finished as high as 10th on the tour, but “I decided in ’96, that was enough,” she said. “I missed the cut by a shot seven times in 1996. I realized it wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough by a shot, but I wasn’t good enough by about six (shots). So I went down to Florida and tried to decide what to do with my life, and went into the golf business for about a year.”
She then had jobs in New York and Long Island before getting a job with AIG for 15 years. In 2005, she regained her amateur status and has lived in Jersey City, N.J., for 11 years.
“I just love it,” she said. “It’s close enough to (New York City) that you can get in, and far enough away that you can get to the golf course quickly.”