It was a bittersweet end Friday to an 18-year career.
Leta Lindley, who won her first LPGA Tour title after 15 years on the circuit at the 2008 LPGA Corning Classic, missed the cut at the Kingsmill Championship.
"I think I've had a mix of emotions, obviously very bittersweet, but knowing that it's the right time for me," she said. "I've been out here for 18 years and I've grown up out here and this has been my family for so long and it's been a big chunk of my life, but I know that it's time but it doesn't make it any less sad."
The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident finished even at 71 for 2-over in the first two days, outside of the 1-under cut.
Lindley, who joined the LPGA Tour in 1995, cited spending more time with her husband, Matt Plagmann, and their children, Cole and Reese, as a reason for leaving the links.
"Before I know it, (Cole and Reese) are going to be out of the house and I just don't want to miss any more of that," she said. "So it's time to create some different memories."
Lindley was choking back tears while talking about her final walk up the 18th hole, with her husband and caddie by her side.
"I never would have made it 18 years without him by my side," she said. "Not many husband-wife teams can work together and have the kind of relationship that we do and I'm most thankful for him."
When asked about the legacy she would leave after nearly two decades on the greens, Lindley answered two-fold: about the attitude she displayed while playing and the charitable work she has done for Prader-Willi Syndrome.
"Certainly having the opportunity to use my golf for something better and bigger and helping children that have Prader-Willi Syndrome, that has been my dream," she said.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Prader-Willi Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder present at birth that results in a number of physical, mental and behavioral problems.
Lindley has run an annual golf charity event, the Leta Lindley Prader-Willi Classic, since 2009, which helps raise money and awareness for the disorder.
Regarding her legacy on tour, Lindley said she hoped to set a good example for other golfers.
"I enjoyed what I was doing and I hope that that showed inside the ropes," she said.
Golfer Maria Hernandez jokingly asked Lindley about her secret to golf longevity, to which she pointed to her heart.
"I've seen so many players that hit it so much better than I do and have oodles of more talent," she said. "Why am I still here and they're not? I think that there's something in my heart of never giving up."
Top-ranked American Stacy Lewis saw first-hand the intensity Lindley displayed during the first two days of the tournament.
"It's so cool to see the passion she has for it," Lewis said. "And you can see her passion for the family, just her heart and who she is."
Despite winning one Tour event, Lindley earned more than $3 million and had 33 top-10 finishes. Three of Lindley's top-10s came in majors, including the 1997 LPGA Championship where she finished second.
Lindley is proud of the tenacity she displayed, using this tournament as an example of her grit.
"I hit so many 3-woods, but just like I always have, I hung in there and I gutted it out and I got up and down and made some birdies and I never gave up," she said. "That's how I played all 18 years. I never give up."
Lewis said golf is better off because of Lindley's contributions.
"We're losing a pretty cool person," she said. "Every time you see Leta, whether she played good or played bad, she's got a smile on her face, and that's pretty rare out here, truthfully."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun