Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

April 25, 2014

GC Golf: Lauren Hayes is first golfer from Dawson to go to state tournament

DAWSON — It's just another golf tournament, just a another golf tournament, just another golf tournament …

That's what Dawson's Lauren Hayes keeps telling herself these days. That's her new mantra, her theme that rocks back and forth in her mind like a sing-song reminder.

Hayes is one of those smart, cool kids who suddenly finds herself going to the UIL Class 1A state golf tournament in Austin, and she's trying to find ways not to get too worked up so she can play well when she gets there.

She's confident and thrilled to be going to state. She just wants to keep both feet on the ground.

She left her feet last week when they announced that the medalist winner at the Region Tournament in Nacogdoches was none other than Hayes, who thought she had finished somewhere in the Top 10 at region.

“I told her before they announced the winners that I thought she was in the top 10, said her golf Coach Darius Slade. “She finished 12th as a freshman so I was telling her how well she did finishing in the top 10.''

Then when the top three medalist were announced Hayes found herself at the top of the field.

“It was amazing, just amazing,” Hayes said. “I didn't think I played very good. I shot a 102. But my Dad told me I would be in the top group, but I didn't believe him. But I guess it was really a tough course and when they said that fourth place was a 104, I was like 'whaaaaat?' Then they said I was the medalist. It was awesome.''

Hayes made history, becoming the first girls golfer from Dawson to ever qualify for the state golf tournament.

“As far as anyone knows, she's the first ever,'' Slade said. “I've talked to people who have been at this school for 35 years and they say no girl has ever done it.''

Hayes is just a sophomore and she has a bright future on the golf course, where she has improved every year since she started playing golf with her father when she was in fourth grade.

“He liked to play and I thought it was real cool to play golf with my dad,'' Hayes said. “I started playing golf because I liked being with my Dad. It was fun because I got to hang out with him.''

There were times in the early days when Hayes — like anyone new to golf — would get frustrated.

“At first we didn't keep score,'' she said. “But then when we started keeping score I would get pretty frustrated. But I never wanted to quit.

Now Hayes beats her father on the golf course.

“That's really cool, because I beat him now,'' she said. “We're about even. I beat him sometimes and he beats me sometimes.''

She came into her own a couple of years ago and really stepped up last year when she finished third in the district tournament as a freshman. She finished tied for second in this year's district tournament before emerging as the medalist at Nacogdoches. She'll play in Austin Thursday and Friday for a chance to win a state title.

She just doesn't want to get too pumped up.

“It's exciting going to state. I just don't want to get really nervous,'' Hayes said. “I keep telling myself: 'It's just golf. It's just another golf tournament.''

Hayes drives the ball more than 200 yards, but she admits there are times at the first tee when she either slices it badly or just doesn't get all of it.

“At the region tournament her first shot went up in the air and went about five yards,'' Slade said. “But she hit a great second shot and ended up shooting a par for the hole.''

That's one of Hayes' strengths, her resilience and perseverance to come back after hitting a bad shot.

“She is a very focused young lady,'' Slade said. “She doesn't let a bad shot bother her. She recovers well. She doesn't get discouraged at all. She stays focused.''

Hayes is smart and funny and has her own approach to life. She has a 3.75 GPA and plays golf with a nice blend of intelligence and ability.

“We're exited,'' Slade said. “Any time we have athlete makes it that far, it's something to talk about. I honestly feel she's going to do very well. She's focused and she wants it.''

Golf is the only sport that has ever excited Hayes, who played softball and volleyball but is now devoted to being the best golfer she can be.

“I love golf,'' she said. “When I played softball and volleyball, I never got mad and when the other girls would get mad after we lost a game I would try to cheer them up. But it's different with golf. This is the only sport I've ever had my entire heart into in my life.''

And now she has made history at Dawson with a chance to do even ore at the state tournament.

“I think going to state will really help my confidence in the future,'' Hayes said. I will be more sure of my ability, and it will help me (mentally). No matter what happens I can always tell myself, 'I went to state. I can do anything I want to do.'

Hayes dreams of playing college golf, and she's on her way to building a pretty good resume, and she could take a huge step at the state tournament.

“It's exciting to go to state,'' she said. “It really hasn't hit me yet that I'm going to state. It will probably hit with one of those pinch-me moment when I walk out onto the first tee. I'm just going to tell myself it's just another golf tournament …

 

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