Suddenly the water and bunkers were all too obvious. Previously unnoticed, they posed a major threat for a life-changing moment.
But Britain’s Annabell Fuller was more than up to the task on the final hole at Al Madden Golf in Marrakech, Morocco, and two months after birdieing the final par-five hole, she is now playing with some of the most big names in women’s golf.
American star Lexi Thompson along with European Solheim Cup players Leona Maguire, Carlotta Ciganda, Charley Hull, Georgia Hall and Gemma Dryburgh headline a star-studded field at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International of 3 .96 million pounds sterling this week.
Fuller is also in Riyadh’s starting lineup. It’s a great reward for being the best amateur during the Ladies European Tour qualifying school last December in Morocco.
The 22-year-old from Surrey finished in fifth place after completing eight of the most important rounds of her life with remarkable consistency.
Fuller is set to begin his Q School adventure in pre-qualifying with three rounds at Noria Golf Club in Marrakech. “Honestly, I went to the first stage thinking I would go there and just see if I could play good golf,” she told BBC Sport.
“If I didn’t make it, it would just be another week of golf and I would go back to college and kind of move on with my life.”
The former English Amateur Stroke Play champion had one semester left at the University of Florida and that, at the time of LET pre-qualifying, was her main priority.
“It was like playing stress-free golf for a few days, which was nice,” Fuller said. “I was just hitting and I wasn’t really making any big mistakes, so it was really, really nice. And with my mom on the bag, I was just really relaxed.”
Fuller won the tournament and advanced to the five-round final stage three days later. “I just kept that mindset,” she added. “Let’s just try to make the cut and then I’ll worry about everything that happens after that.”
She had made an eagle and 24 birdies by the time she reached the closing tee of the fifth round. His business card was almost in the bag.
“It was the last hole before I felt really nervous,” Fuller admitted. “It’s not the easiest finishing hole. The drive has bunkers on the right, water on the left and then the approach has water on the right side of the green.”
The potential pitfalls emerged in a stream of consciousness. “The water is there if you want to lay down and there are bunkers on either side of the green,” she said.
“And if you go into one of them, you have to worry about the water in the back. I’d never seen water near the green before that last round.”
So hitting that closing drive was a big moment. “I told myself I was going to try to hit as hard as I could and the result would be whatever it was,” she added.
Moments after the tee shot spilled onto the fairway, his caddy mother, Oshi, was shedding tears of joy, pride and relief. Fuller made the approach onto the green and calmly holed two putts for birdie.
“I was like, ‘oh my God, I did it,’” she said. “This is what I’ve been training and trying for my whole life, and then you wonder ‘how am I going to do this?’ Am I going to go pro?”
It was an instant dilemma, as leaving Florida early is a departure after years of success playing for the ‘Gators while studying English.
She will earn her degree online while pursuing the benefits of advancing to the professional ranks. “I told my coach that if I got my card, I would defer it until May and then start playing on the LET,” Fuller explained.
“But I found out when I was at Q School that if I got my card I had to make a decision by January 15. So I had to claim my membership and you can only do that as a that pro.
“My coach Emily Glaser told me ‘this is what we asked you to do – the team will miss you, we really want you here but you have to do what’s best to you and you must take the lead in ‘opportunity’.”
Fuller felt the harsh realities of professional life during her debut in Kenya last week, where she missed the cut by one shot. She is now heading to Saudi Arabia for the LET’s most valuable event.
“If I succeed, it will be useful to me,” she smiles. “My father has saved my whole life for this moment and I have sponsors and help from people who want to support me.
“I hope if I do well in the first few tournaments it will take the pressure off.
“It’s intimidating that every shot, every putt, every mistake that I make will actually cost me and it will cost me more than a few points in the world amateur rankings,” she said.
“The consequences are greater. I try to stay in the mindset that if I succeed, I will be more rewarded and I will have more opportunities to do other things.”
Fuller draws inspiration from the careers of her long-established English compatriots Hall and Hull on the LPGA Tour. “I saw them when I was little and playing with my sister (Samantha).
“Seeing that they’ve made it, I’m trying to follow their path.”
She does not lack perspective and notes the comments of an American Ryder Cup star. “Max Homa said ‘Golf is a crazy game. You are one stroke away from winning the Masters and one stroke away from wanting to quit the game.’
“And it’s so true,” Fuller said. “My personal goal is to continue to enjoy playing and make sure I don’t think too much about money.
“I told my dad I would try for three years and try not to think about it as much as possible and we would evaluate after three years and see if I took all his money,” he said. -she laughed.
On a more serious note, her ambitions befit a player who has competed three times for Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup. “I’m really excited, I can’t wait to see what life on tour is like,” she said.
“Ideally, getting closer to winning Rookie of the Year would be incredible. You only have one chance to get there.”