Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Great week of golf


Published:   |   Updated: August 1, 2013 at 08:48 AM

Kendall Griffin chased her golf ball from Pinehurst, N.C. to Vero Beach in the past week, and the 14-year-old Sebring resident enjoyed every minute of her time on the links.

Griffin placed second at the U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championship at Pinehurst, N.C., and then drove with her family to Vero Beach to help the South team win the prestigious Florida State Golf Association Florida Junior Golf Cup on Tuesday.

"I'm a little tired but I had an awesome time playing golf," Griffin said. "To get to play Pinehurst No. 1 and Pinehurst No. 2 was incredible knowing all the history that has happened on those courses."

Griffin, who was competing in the U.S. Kids Golf Teen World Championship for the fourth time, carded rounds of 73, 71, 75 and watched a three-shot lead evaporate in the final round to finish second by three strokes to Kennedy Swann from Texas, who fired a final round 70.

"It was disappointing to finish second, but Kennedy played well and made a lot of big putts," Griffin said. "I love competing against good players because it helps to raise the level of my game."

Placing second out of 29 players in her age group and watching players from 40 countries from around the world play the game of golf was a valuable experience for Griffin.

"I had so much fun playing on such great conditioned courses and making new friends," the 14-year-old phenom said. "I was happy for Kennedy because she's a good player and seeing kids from around the world play golf makes you realize what a popular sport it is.

"Knowing that I played Pinehurst No. 2 and that it's going to host the U.S. Open next year is so cool."

On Sunday, Griffin teamed up with Kennedy to shoot an even par 72 to win their match and earn a point to help the U.S. defeat the World by a score of 7-2 in the World Cup competition.

"It was a lot of fun to play with Kennedy," Griffin said. "We had a great time and to help the U.S. win the World Cup was so cool."

After Sunday's round, the family drove straight to Vero Beach for the two-day Florida State Golf Association Florida Junior Golf Cup competition at Bent Time Golf Club.

"We played two matches on Monday which were best ball and alternate shot," Griffin said. "I was super tired in the first match which we lost 2 and 1, but I was warmed up and ready for the alternate-shot match which we won by a score of 6 and 5. "In the alternate-shot match my partner was a boy and he played great.

"I had never played with guys in tournaments and it was so cool to se how powerful he was and how easy he made it look."

Tuesday's final event was the singles competition and Griffin played a friend of hers that likes to trash talk before the round.

Griffin blocked the distraction out of her mind and cruised to a convincing 5 and 4 victory.

"I don't mind having a little fun talking trash, but she went a little overboard," Griffin said. "I just let my clubs do the talking for me."

Griffin's win helped the South defeat the North for the first time in six years by a score of 20 1/2 to 11 1/2.

"I was the first member of the South team to touch the trophy," Griffin said. "We had it wrapped in a towel by the last green and as soon as we clinched the win, I unwrapped it, kissed it and we took a water cooler and drenched the girl who won the clinching match."

Griffin, who is home-schooled, is looking forward to competing for the Sebring High School girls golf team this fall.

"I'm very excited about playing high school golf and I'm looking forward to being part of a team," Griffin said. "I know most of the girls on the team and sharing the spirit of trying to win as a group is something special."

mpinson@highlandstoday.com

863-386-5837

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