McPherson volunteers as Augusta St. assistant

McPherson volunteers as Augusta St. assistant

Uncategorized

McPherson volunteers as Augusta St. assistant

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When Casey Kennedy reached her monstrous drive on the 17th at LPGA International’s Legends Course, Kristy McPherson was there to greet her, yardage book in hand. The Augusta State freshman soaked up every bit of advice the Solheim Cupper doled out.

Last week Kennedy and McPherson were on the first tee together at Augusta National. McPherson said Kennedy flew the bunker on the first hole like it wasn’t there and had 75 yards left. The LPGA player “busted” her drive down the fairway and had 135 yards to the pin. Kennedy shot 45-35–80 from the member’s tees.

“She hits it tour-wise similar to a Suzann (Pettersen) or Michelle Wie,” said McPherson. “She does a lot of things with the golf ball most girls can’t do.”

McPherson’s younger brother, Kevin, is head coach at Augusta State. He called when she was en route to Daytona to spectate and asked if she’d be willing to act as his volunteer assistant coach. Kevin’s student assistant, Tamara Luccioli, had final exams.

The team welcomed Kristy’s advice and good humor, viewing her presence as a boost of confidence rather than cause for extra nerves.

“They can make good decisions on their own, but they like to hear it from someone else,” said McPherson, who has played this track more times than she’d care to admit. LPGA Q-School was not kind to the former South Carolina standout.

All five Jaguar players are making their first NCAA postseason appearance here at the East Regional. The team must make a significant move to climb into the top eight. They sat in 15th place Friday, midway through the second round.

Kennedy, the only American in the lineup, transferred to Augusta State from Auburn last fall. She red-shirted in 2009, and put her clubs away in the spring. While she toyed with the idea of taking another semester off, her father, William, convinced her that wasn’t a good idea.

“I lost my love for golf a little bit,” said Kennedy, who didn’t want to elaborate. She took the summer off, too.

The fact that the Augusta State men’s team won the NCAA Championship last year was “an attraction” for Kennedy. She liked the facilities, and the school size (enrollment: 7,071). Augusta State competes at the Division I level in men’s and women’s golf. Its nine other sports are Division II.

Kennedy wasn’t a world-beater as a junior player, but plenty of coaches noticed her raw talent. Kevin McPherson welcomed her with open arms.

“She hits it better than any female player I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I mean that, I do. It’s a little sporadic. But when she hits it good, there’s nobody better.”

Kennedy’s extended break left her even more scattered than usual. Her father taught her the game, and on occasion she will still ask him to look at things. Otherwise, this feel player self-maintains. It’s a simple way of doing things, and McPherson marvels at the possibilities.

Kristy said Kennedy hits her irons one club farther and her drive 30 yards past the LPGA vet. She just needs more lessons on course management and creativity before reaching the next level.

The rust finally began to fall off this spring. She won the Kinderlou Forest Challenge in March, and two weeks later won the Jags’ home event with rounds of 68-66-71.

Kennedy’s second round at the Legends Course was eventful, with four birdies, three bogeys and a double on the par-5 14th. That last blemish came soon after Kristy McPherson left her group. Friday morning brought bouts of rain. Kevin called this track the toughest course his players have seen.

The top two individuals not with a team advance to the NCAA Championship at Texas A&M. Kevin knows Kennedy is capable of going deep any given day. If not tomorrow, well, she’s only 19 years old. More to come.

“Hopefully, she proves me right,” he said.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home