The wedges, the putter and playing par-5s.
Give Morgan Beaulieu a mulligan on those at the Class 3A state golf tournament last week in Howey-In-The-Hills, and she’d have been a factor in determining a state champion at the end of the event.
But still, her first time in “the big dance” of high school golf was a learning experience, and as a sophomore she can put those lessons learned to good use over the next two years.
Tohopekaliga High’s Beaulieu shot 74-77 at Mission Inn’s El Campeon course, good for a tie for 25th in the state. That opening round 74, which featured birdies on two of the par-3s, had her in the top 10 going into the final round.
Beaulieu said she was at ease at the start of the biggest tournament of her life thus far, but it got harder as it went on.
“Surprisingly, I wasn’t that nervous, actually. This is the highest-profile event I’ve ever been in,” she said. “I’ve been really nervous on the first tee in smaller tournaments.”
She played the course’s eight par-5s over two days in five over par, which is where those at the top of the leaderboard gained their strokes.
“I didn’t take advantage of them. I feel bad about how the second day went,” she said.
THS golf coach Bob Muzeka said this state tournament was a learning experience.
“She was a little uptight on day two. Everything that went wrong is fixable,” he said. “This year was something to build on.”
Last year as a freshman, she was Tohopekaliga’s only female player, so there was no team to try to pull through districts. Like last year she was one of the top three players not on qualifying teams at district, which earned her a place at the regional tournament.
Last year’s back nine at regionals didn’t go well enough for her to qualify for state, but this year, thanks to a 76 at West Orange Country Club, it was.
“I just played better this year (at regionals),” Beaulieu said. “We had a game plan for West Orange and it came off like we planned. “I can definitely do better, so I’m already excited for next year.”
That explains why she was out with Muzeka, a couple of her girls and boys Tiger teammates, and some other coaches for an informal friendly match at Kissimmee Bay on Monday taking advantage of the off day from school, just trying to get better. Over the spring and summer, she plans to keep a tournament schedule, and also try to qualify for the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur in June.
“This spring it’s going to be wedges, wedges and more wedges,” Muzeka said. “She gained about 15 yards over the last few months off the tee, but we’ve got to get her hitting it longer.”