It is nearly impossible to miss Casie Cathrea on the golf course. The 17-year-old committed to Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2011, and shortly thereafter began wearing bold punches of Cowgirls orange.
On Sunday, that meant day-glo orange shorts and a dinner-platter sized OSU belt buckle. In her first U.S. Women’s Open start, Cathrea finished as the low amateur, and that’s mostly because of a final-round 70 at Sebonack Golf Club. It was her first sub-par score of the week, and still included bogeys at Nos. 17 and 18.
Cathrea was one of two players to shoot 70 Sunday. It was the lowest final-round score. Cathrea made five birdies in the first eight holes, then bogeyed the ninth. She added seven more pars before reaching No. 17.
“I was just trying to stay in my own bubble, not get ahead of myself,” Cathrea said. “I know I had the tendency to do that earlier this week. I tried to just stay in my own little mindset.”
Cathrea closed the week at 9-over 297, two shots ahead of World No. 1 amateur Lydia Ko, an accomplishment in itself.
During the past year, Cathrea has turned increased attention to her putting during practice. It paid off on Sebonack’s quick, undulating greens.
Before this week, Cathrea had only ever played in the Northeast one time, when she won the inaugural Women’s Porter Cup on June 14. Cathrea, a Northern California native, said the biggest adjustment this week was learning not to fire at every pin. That was a hard lesson for Cathrea, generally an aggressive player, but it sunk in quickly. Cathrea shot 79 in Round 3 before her returning her Sunday 70.
“I figured today just to go out and play the sections of the green and act like the pin wasn’t there,” she said. “I practiced in the fog this morning and it was basically like there was no pins on the range for me.”
Cathrea will leave Sebonack a little more wise, a little more battle-hardened. Her next great learning curve likely occurs in August, when she arrives in Stillwater, Okla., officially a collegiate golfer.