Local Teens Hit Links: Hall, Crider Play In U.S. Kids Teen
Elizabeth Hall and Hailey Crider didn’t have to travel very far to play in the U.S. Kids Teen World Cup 15-18 Girls Division, but both had a long way to go to catch up after the first round at Pine Needles Resort.
Hall, a rising senior at The O’Neal School, opened with an 86 on Thursday, while Crider shot 87.
“My game wasn’t very good,” Hall said, grimacing after walking off the 18th green of the course where three Women’s U.S. Opens have been held since 1996. “I’m going through a couple of swing changes and I really wasn’t expecting much. I got into trouble on holes two and nine and again on a couple of holes on the back.”
Hall, who is hoping to play college golf, wasn’t down on herself, but she was realistic, saying, “That’s a stretch right now.”
As for her chances of rallying in the event, which ended on Saturday, she said, “There are a lot of good players here from all over the world. It’s exciting, but it’s nerve-wracking. You just have to play your own game and not worry.
“I’m disappointed, but you just have to try to forget about what happened and go on to the next round.”
Hall underwent a caddie change in mid-round when her father replaced the original bag-carrier because of illness.
“This is the first time I’ve carried for her,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to, but couldn’t get the bag. Elizabeth knows her club selection, so I couldn’t help her with that. I guess I helped most around the greens. I enjoyed walking this beautiful course.”
Crider is a rising junior at Pinecrest High School, where she’ll captain her golf team this year. Her opening round left her eager to get back on the course.
“It was hard today, but I was unlucky, too,” she said. “I shot 77 in practice and have been shooting in the 70s, but I really was just a little unlucky. I didn’t have any particularly bad hole; I just couldn’t get a break when I needed it. My ball-striking was really good.
“I’m just more or less going to try to forget today and go work on my putting more than anything else.”
Suzy Whaley, an outstanding golf instructor from Connecticut and a great player in her own right, had two daughters playing in the event. Whaley won the LPGA Teachers and Club Professionals Championship held at Mid Pines in 2002.
“I caddied for my oldest daughter today, but I think I’m getting fired,” Whaley said. “I love walking the course with her, but it’s tougher watching than it is playing. It makes me understand what my parents went through.”
Eric Albrecht was on the public relations staff of the LPGA when Whaley won at Mid Pines. He lives in Florida, works for the National Kidney Foundation now, and was enjoying carrying the bag for his 14-year-old daughter, Emma.
“I love this golf course,” he said of the Donald Ross-designed Pine Needles. “I tell my kids, ‘They don’t make them like this anymore.’ ”
Emma agreed with the assessment after opening with a 74 that left her only a shot out of the lead in her division.
“It’s in perfect shape,” she said. “I love it.”
She also loved the competition. “This field is composed of international players so it’s extra strong,” she said. “But I came here thinking I could win.”
Emma is enjoying having Dad on her bag. “He’s been good,” she said, smiling. “He gives me reassurance, and he’s helped me a lot. He can firm up my thoughts.”
Volunteer Pam Jones puts in more hours than any two players in the field. A volunteer for the past three years, the Woodlake resident logs about 12 hours a day as course captain. And her work is not finished when the Teen event ends on Sunday. She heads for Longleaf Country Club, where she’ll work the Kids portion.
“I’ve been the course captain for three years here,” said Jones, who has also worked both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens at Pinehurst and Pine Needles. “I love it. I really enjoy watching the teenagers, especially the girls. They all have such good attitudes, and they don’t seem to have too much stress. They’re just really enjoying the game.”
Jones is working her way up through the age levels. “I’ve worked with the 7-, 8- and the 9-year-olds,” she said. “This year I’m going to experience the 10-year-olds.”
Although the hours are long, Jones isn’t complaining.
“My job is easy,” she said, “because I’ve got good volunteers working with me. It’s fun watching the kids grow up and become better golfers each year. I like to stay involved in the game of golf because I love it.”
Contact Howard Ward at email@example.com.
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