Part II-continued from last issue
Age 10-By now, Kristi’s golf swing was really looking good. She already was the best putter in her own Parks and Recreation age bracket for about a year or so. How? Well, I used to take Kristi at a very young age out to a putting green for an hour or so, maybe once a week. On each putt I’d ask her to tell me 2 things: (1) Is it up or downhill? (2) Does it go right or left? She became an amazing green reader and putter for such a little tyke. Then we’d have a putting contest – just Kristi and daddy. I would hit one ball. She would get to hit 2. And then, she could choose the one closest to the hole to putt out. Putting has always been the best part of my game. But she often came very close to beating me. And yes, there were a few times she DID win. Then Kristi couldn’t wait to get home. She would run in yelling to mommy that she beat daddy in putting today!
In the Parks Tour she notched three 3rd places in the 10/11-age bracket, which now plays 9 holes. She also won the Canterbury Green event in an exciting 4-hole putt-off over Lakia Walker after both shot 59. Then in the season ending Tour Championship at McMillen (2 days–18 holes total) she followed her solid first day score of 56 with her best 9-holes of her young life firing 51.
I remember being amazed on how well she consistently was swinging the club. And though she finished 1 shot out of 3rd place in the 8 girl field — her 107 total was 31 strokes behind Raquel Hopton — it was obvious that it was all coming together for ‘lil Kristi. Jessica Scortino took 2nd with 104, Amy Funk was 3rd at 106. Kristi was the top finisher among the 10 year olds, 26 shots ahead of the next closest girl of the same age.
Her year was capped-off in August by scoring her 1st ever birdie on a 95-yard par 3 at Meadowbrook in Anderson playing with mom & dad. She notched the 3-foot birdie putt and had only 19 putts. Plus, her 58 on the regulation course, was the 1st time she ever beat her mom. I told Liz that day, “You’d better get used to it!”
Age 11-Due to a long family first-ever vacation in Colorado, Kristi played in only 3 regular season Parks & Recreation summer tourneys. But in this 10/11-year old division, she made the most of it. She won at Shoaff (shooting 46), took 2nd at Lakeside and 3rd at Shoaff. She had a slim chance to be crowned the overall (points total) 11-year old Jr. Champion. But she would have to win the 2-day Tour Championship finale tourney at McMillen. A 52 on Day 1 put her in the hunt, but behind Amber Farrant. Both players played very well on Day 2, with Kristi finally edging ahead by 2 with 2 holes left to play. As I passed her on the way to the next tee, Kristi said to me, “Daddy, I have butterflies in my tummy.” I had never ever heard her say anything about being nervous until that moment. But with a couple holes left to go in her biggest season tournament, she was nervous. She still led by 1 on the final tee box. She played the final hole beautifully, including a great read of a tough, tricky downhill 8-foot putt. She trickled a fantastic ‘touch’ putt down that softly rimmed cup, leaving only a tap-in for victory. She shot 45 on that final day for the 97 winning total. Amber was 2nd with 99. Ashley Kees was 3rd at 101.
2001 also marked the 1st time we ever entered Kristi in any statewide IGA-PGA Pepsi Prep Tour event. Kristi was vastly improving, and Liz and I were anxious to see how she would fare with the best 11-year olds in Indiana. On June 7th at Morningstar in Indy, she shot 65 to finish 4th out of 11 contestants. She fared just fine! Then in her other event on July 30, she finished 2nd place out of 9 kids. She also bagged her 1st birdie ever in competition on her way to a 60 at the Lafayette Country Club—5 shots behind the winner and 4 ahead of 3rd place.
Age 12-This year Kristi started taking lessons from a pro. Until now, I was her only golf teacher. Scott Pieri was a young energetic teaching pro at Chestnut Hills who loved working with kids. Scott recognized the potential in this new student and she couldn’t wait for each new lesson with Scott.
Though Kristi played consistently in the 12-13 year old Parks Division, she placed either 2nd or 3rd each week. No wins at all. But nobody else won more than one. No one was as consistent. Then at the Tour Championship at Foster Park in July, Kristi fired 53-49 (102) to win the 2-day event. Close friend Jordan Essman (Angola) shot 105. Kia Walker was 3rd with 112. By virtue of her win in the season’s most prestigious event, she earned enough points to win the Grand Prix Player of the Year Award!
At the state level, Kristi finished 3rd place in all 3 events she entered. The 2002 IGA-PGA Pepsi Prep Tour final point standings showed Kristi in 8th place out of the 21 girls in the 12-year old division.
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