Fernandez sets good example for golfers: She usually wins


Pat Conway doesn't have to look far to find a player for his team to emulate on the golf course.

Not since Jessica Fernandez, a four-handicap out of Sparrows Point Country Club, transferred to Patapsco High from Mount Carmel for her senior year.

"I tell the other players to watch her because her form is correct and she goes about her game the way it should be played," said Conway, who will accompany Fernandez tomorrow and Tuesday the public schools state tournament at the University of Maryland Golf Club.

"She is a perfect example of what you should do on a golf course."

Tom Hanna, coach of Maryland's golf team, noticed that the first time he saw her play.

"I was really impressed with how she carries herself on the course. That's what caught my eye more than her game," said Hanna, who would like to have Fernandez play for the Terps' women's golf team, which tentatively is scheduled to begin play next year.

"When she hit a shot, I couldn't tell whether she made it or missed it from a distance because she controls her emotions so well. If she hits a bad shot she goes on to the next one without losing her temper. One bad shot with Jessica doesn't cost her a tournament."

In her first season in public school competition, Fernandez has been a model of consistency for the Patriots, winning all six of her matches while playing against the No. 1 boy from each team.

"I just try and shoot the best I can each time I go out and I don't worry about who I'm playing or how they are playing," said Fernandez. "I act like I'm just playing another round of golf and it takes the pressure off."

The Dundalk native showed no signs of anxiety as she shot an even par 37 (nine holes) at a pre-qualifier for the district tournament, nor did she choke at the District VI/Baltimore County Championships at Rocky Point GC, where she won the girls title and finished tied for first overall.

"She is always a lady, but she's very competitive and she doesn't like to lose and she doesn't like to tie either," said Conway, referring to the district tournament where she finished tied for first at 4-over with Perry Hall's Jamie Geilenkirchen.

"If someone plays better than her, she can accept that. But, usually, the only thing she has to accept is her awards."

There have been many.

To name just a few, Fernandez (5-foot-7 and 122 pounds) is the two-time defending Maryland State Golf Association champion, the two-time defending Mid-Atlantic golf Association champ, and four-time winner of the Walter Quick Jr. Memorial Tournament.

Fernandez, who says she tries her best to imitate Fred Couples' "effortless swing," said she is leaning toward attending Maryland next fall, but also is considering Winthrop College and Coastal Carolina University in the golf-rich state of South Carolina.

"I've watched a lot of girls play and Jessica can play with anyone," said Hanna. "If she comes to Maryland she could start right away. She's still only 16 and once she gets a little bigger and stronger she'll elevate her game even more. When she does, I really believe she will make a serious mark on women's golf in the East."

Conway couldn't agree more.

"When you're playing a couple of strokes over par, you can play with anyone, anywhere," said Conway. "Jessica is used to winning, she works hard and she expects to win."

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