The Agnes Irwin senior captured her second consecutive Inter-Ac Golf Tournament title (third overall) with a two-under par 35 at the Gulph Mills Golf Club course May 9. The Dartmouth University-bound senior finished sixth at the recent Callaway Golf / Ollie Schniederjans Junior Classic – Girls Division, competing in a field of top junior players from 17 states and six foreign countries. Last July, she made the cut for all four rounds at the 42nd Girls Junior PGA Championship at The Country Club of St. Albans Lewis & Clark Course in St. Albans, Missouri.
Q: What was working particularly well for you at the Inter-Ac Tournament?
A: I think my mental game was key that day. Going into the tournament, I had been a little frustrated with my play this so far season as I hadn’t had any rounds under par in matches. I really wanted to go low that day but I knew that putting tons of pressure on myself wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I decided to go in with the mindset that I was there to have fun with my team in my last time teeing it up in the Inter-Ac and that at the end of the day, it was just golf. I was able to relax, trust myself, and play my best.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the 4-hybrid you hit at the 7th hole that set up your eagle during the round at Gulph Mills?
A: Coming into the tournament, I wasn’t sure if I would go for it in two on that hole. It brings a large gully on the left into play. But if you lay up, it’s a very tough green and hard to get it to stop close to the pin with a wedge from 40 yards, so I figured why not. I had 185 yards to the green, which was the perfect distance for my 4 hybrid. I actually didn’t realize my ball had stayed on the green until I walked up to the green and then standing over the putt, I just thought about how this was the way I wanted to go out of Inter-Ac golf.
Q: What golf mentors have been particularly influential to you? What has been the most important thing you have learned from each of them?
A: My most important golf mentor has been my coach Brian Quinn. I started working with Brian when I was 14 and he’s helped me change the way I play to become more confident and trusting in myself. He’s always reminding me that golf is not a game of perfect and to not be too hard on myself.
Although they’re more tennis players than golfers, my parents have also been two of my best golf mentors. From the first day I picked up a club, my dad was telling me that I had a great swing. Without his endless encouragement, I would never have had the confidence to play in that first tournament. My mom reminds me every day to have a positive attitude on the course and to make every moment count. They’ve been there for every step of my golf career supporting me and I couldn’t thank them enough.
Q: What is your favorite hole at your home course, and why? What is your favorite golf course and why?
A: My favorite hole at Philadelphia Country Club would have to be the 12th. It’s a fun par-5 to play and the green is the highest point on the course so the view is amazing too. My favorite golf course in the area is Merion’s East Course. I love the history of the game, especially Ben Hogan, and playing on a course so steeped in history is always special for me. Plus, it’s a beautiful layout and always, always a challenge.
Q: What is your favorite club and why (can you give specs)? What is your favorite golf ball and why? What size grips do you feel most comfortable with?
A: My favorite club is my Cleveland putter. I actually won it about five years ago in a tournament and although I’ve tried to change a few times, I always come back to it. My favorite golf ball to play is Titleist ProV1 because I like the feel and control it gives me around the greens. I play golf pride grips and then use a Super Stroke 1.0 grip on my putter for the past two years which I’ve liked a lot.
Q: What part of your game do you consider strongest? What aspect of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: My ball striking, particularly my driving, has always been one of the strongest parts of my game. Right now, I’m focusing most of my energy on my short game and putting because that’s what ultimately makes the difference between shooting a few over or even/under par.
Q: What was your most vivid memory of the the recent Callaway Golf / Ollie Schniederjans Junior Classic event, in which you finished sixth?
A: My most vivid memory from that tournament was making 15 greens in regulation in the final round and being able to keep my game steady through the final stretch of holes and come to a strong finish.
Q: Who is your favorite golfer and why?
A: I love Jordan Spieth’s game. He’s such a great putter, especially from 20 feet and in, and his mental game and course management are both really strong as well. From watching him play on TV, you can tell he cares a lot about what he’s doing and is 100 percent invested in the moment.
Q: What has been your favorite golfing moment outside of Agnes Irwin?
A: My favorite golfing moment was at the Junior Girls PGA Championship last year in Missouri. This past year, I just missed in qualifying for the US Girls Junior and the US Women’s Am so to qualify for the Junior PGA was amazing. I made the cut and played all four days, shooting 71-74-79-73. The PGA worked really hard to make the tournament as special as possible for us by setting it up like a professional event. Throughout the week, I had the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the country and hold my own which was a great confidence booster.
Q: What do you think you will major in at Dartmouth? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: Right now, I’m considering majoring in both history and economics. After college, I’m interested in both law and working in the foreign service, but I also might consider pursuing a career in the golf industry.
Fun facts – Kaitlyn Lees
Favorite book: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
Favorite author: JK Rowling.
Favorite TV show: Seinfeld.
Favorite movie: Roman Holiday.
Favorite athlete: Jordan Spieth.
Favorite team: Duke University basketball.
Person I most admire: “Both my grandmothers, Dorothy Tinney and Kathryn Lees. I’ve learned so much from watching their examples over the years of how they spread kindness and leave every room they enter a better place.”
Family members: parents David and Connie; brothers Connor and Brady.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)
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