ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – College coaches bundled up and came out to the South Atlantic Amateur to court Sierra Brooks, the 16-year-old who de-committed from the University of Florida shortly after winning the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic in late November.
Brooks is putting on a show, too, leading the Sally field by three after shooting 72-71 at Oceanside Country Club to top Louisville’s Katie Mitchell (77) by three.
“I made that decision to go to Florida at 14,” said Brooks. “I was very young.”
Coaches from Texas, Auburn, Wake Forest and LSU were on site Thursday. Brooks, a junior at Lake Mary (Fla.) Prep, already has made campus visits to Wake Forest, North Carolina and LSU. She plans to visit Auburn and Texas next month after the Annika Invitational and hopes to have a decision made before summer break.
Brooks admits to going through a two-month slump last summer, and switching coaches twice. She’s now working with her father, Brent, a former pro who plans to come caddie for Sierra the last two rounds in Ormond Beach.
“What I learned is I’m a feel player and I just need to keep it simple,” she said. “I know how to play the game; I’ve been playing for 10 years. There’s no reason to try to complicate it even more.”
Brooks took a history test Wednesday morning before driving herself to a tournament for the first time. After Thursday’s round she planned to head back to school for an anatomy quiz.
Cold and windy conditions somehow suit the Florida native, who said she prefers the challenge. Her second-round 71 included a bogey on the par-5 17th after she went for the green in two from 190 yards with a 4-iron and found the water hazard.
While the Polo victory served as a confidence boost after a trying summer, Brooks called her time in Scotland for the Junior Ryder Cup last September the best experience of her life.
As team spokesperson, she gave a speech in front of 50,000 at the opening ceremony. It’s easy to see why the well-spoken, engaging blonde was chosen for the task.
“Words can’t even describe,” she said.