Grace Ferrell, a Newport Harbor High freshman, has learned a great deal of lessons in what has been a stellar debut season in girls' golf.
She has competed in the talented Sunset League, where she finished tied for third at last week's finals. Even then she continued to receive some golf education.
"I've learned just to stay calm, even through all the pressure," Ferrell said Tuesday night.
Ferrell, as well as Corona del Mar freshman Amy Matsuoka and Estancia's Cassie Stevenson and Naomi Beth must use that same mentality as they compete in the CIF Southern Section Southern Regional individual tournament Wednesday morning at Recreation Golf Course in Long Beach.
The girls are excited to compete in the event. Youth is prominent among the Newport-Mesa Unified School District girls in the event. Beth is a sophomore, while Ferrell and Matsuoka are in their first year. Stevenson has the most experience, as she is the lone senior in the group.
Stevenson, who plans to play at Cal State San Marcos, finished second in the Orange Coast League last week.
Ferrell and Matsuoka are on a path that leads to playing golf in college. Matsuoka, who said she was nervous Tuesday night, usually practices three hours a day. Ferrell said she was not nervous Tuesday night. She said practices at least two hours each day, and that includes Sunday.
"I'll just try my best and see the results the come," Ferrell said.
Some would think the freshmen would have a nothing-to-lose mentality in the CIF regional event because they have three more years to play.
Ferrell doesn't really see it that way.
"I'm like everyone else, everyone has the same chance," she said.
Even if her season were to end on Wednesday, Ferrell has put together an impressive first year. She has been a medalist nine times during the season.
"She's just a great kid," Newport Harbor Coach Scott Tarnow said. "She's very calm, cool and collected … She has a really good work ethic. She doesn't how her emotions. She doesn't give up. She just wants to play golf and do her best. It's just really refreshing."
Ferrell, as well as Matsuoka, Beth and Stevenson will need to be at their best on Wednesday at the regional, where the top 45 players plus all ties of the last qualifying score advance to the Individual Final Championship and WSCGA Regional Qualifier on Nov. 1 at Western Hills Golf & Country Club in Chino Hills.
Matsuoka, the PCL MVP who finished third at the league finals, has lofty goals, as she is aiming to win the championship. She wants to be as good as her sister, Melissa, but only in a different sport, as her older sister played tennis and now competes at Dartmouth. Melissa was a key part of four straight Pacific Coast League titles and a CIF Southern Section Division I title for CdM.
Amy is ranked No. 230 in the nation, according to the Junior Golf Scoreboard girls' rankings. Her goal is to get to No. 25 within the next two years.
She'll have a busy day on Wednesday. After playing in the Southern Regional, she'll perform with the Corona del Mar High Orchestra. She plays the violin.
But golf is her passion, after taking up the sport a little more than four years ago.
"She was in gymnastics, but later she got into golf," her father, Denis, said. "I took her to the driving range one day and she just loved it. I can't take away the clubs from her. She loves every thing about golf."
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