Downingtown East junior Liddie McCook, the 2017 Daily Local News All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year, saved her best for last this fall, finishing in second place at the PIAA Class 3A state championships.
Her showing at states capped a streak of silver medal finishes in the 2017 postseason, finishing in second place at the PAC Championships and at districts.
And the second-year captain of the Downingtown East squad nearly pulled off a first-place performance in the state tournament at Heritage Hills in York, barely missing an eagle on the final hole to finish just two strokes off the pace. She tallied seven birdies at the two-day state tournament.
“The key to the way I played at states was my confidence,” said McCook. “Without confidence I would have made different [more conservative] choices in the final holes.”
Coming to the final hole, a par 5 with water in the front and to the left of the green, McCook was trailing the leader, Lauren Freyvogel of Pine Richland, by three strokes. An eagle by McCook and a bogey by Freyvogel would send the match into extra holes. McCook boomed a good drive. had about 175 yards to the pin, and boldly went for the green with a 5-iron. The ball finished just over the green, and McCook’s chip for eagle barely missed the hole.
“I think the best round of my season was at states,” said McCook. “The most pressure I experienced in the season was there, and to be able to play well there gave me the confidence to play my game under tournament pressure.”
Interestingly, the final hole at states resembled McCook’s favorite hole at her home course, Applecross Country Club — No. 9, a downhill par 5 with water guarding the path to the green.
“I like this hole because I can challenge myself to try to hit the green in two shots,” said McCook. “This challenge helps me to continue to lengthen my game and develop new strategies.”
McCook’s favorite club is her driver.
“My driver sets up the rest of my game, and it allows me to attack the green,” said McCook. “Ever since I was little, I always liked to hit the ball hard, so my driver is the strongest part of my game. As I have gotten older, I have learned that the scoring part of my skill set, my wedge and my putter, is the key to my game, so I am working much more on that.”
One of McCook’s biggest fans is her Downingtown East coach, Matt Grinwis.
“Liddie is typically one of the shorter players height-wise, but she is able to hit the ball as far or farther than all of the other young ladies in the state,” said Grinwis. “This goes back to her work ethic and all of the work she has put in over the past decade with her longtime teacher Eric MacCluen. And she is a tremendous leader both on and off the golf course and in the classroom — I was her math teacher her freshman year.
“A prime example of her great work ethic is after she struggled a little at the regional tournament it was clear she needed to be a little sharper with her half wedges, so she spent the week leading up to states reworking her wedge swing, gained confidence with it, and was much crisper with her wedges at states.”
Last summer, McCook was unable to play until a week before the Downingtown East season began due to a broken finger. She quickly regained her form and won two invitational events in August — the Lady Hatter Invitational at Talamore in Ambler and the Central Dauphin Invitational at Dauphin Highlands in Harrisburg — as well as the Hershey Invitational in September.
PGA champion Justin Thomas is McCook’s favorite golfer.
“He was an underdog who fought hard to surpass the early success that his good friend, Jordan Spieth, had achieved,” said McCook. “Also, he has a consistent, levelheaded approach to the game. I try to pattern my game after his.”
McCook has been working with PGA Professional Eric MacCluen for a decade.
“He’s taught me not only the basics of the swing, but also how to play at a high level,” said McCook. “Also, I have been blessed with two amazing golf coaches at Downingtown East, [head golf coach] Scott Yard and [girls head coach] Matthew Grinwis, who have helped and encouraged me throughout my high school years.”
Off the golf course, McCook is a member of National Honor Society and Student Council, and is involved in Leaders Involved Networking Kids (LINK), a peer leadership group dedicated to motivating and training leaders of the school to make positive changes in themselves and, consequently, the school community at large. A few years ago she played 126 holes in a one-day golf marathon at Merion West with friend Sammie Staudt, to raise and I played 126 holes in one day, and we raised money for the Ronald McDonald House. Eventually, she would like to pursue a career in business.
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