Mitchell wins WAGA tournament

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2003

The grip and the swing come so easy, one could say 16-year-old Alyson Mitchell was born with a putter in her hand.

But only part of that swing comes naturally, the rest came from hard work and practice. The combination paid off this week when Mitchell won her first Women's Alabama Golf Association Junior Championship at the Enterprise Country Club.

The tournament took place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and when the last hole was played Mitchell had won by 15 points.

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"She hit 70 percent on the fairways and 75 percent on the greens," said her dad Tony. "She did really good."

The first day, Mitchell said she had five birdies, which helped keep her under par at 71 on a par 73 course. The second day she ended up at 76 and on Wednesday she scored a 79.

"This is the fifth time I've played in the tournament," she said.

Mitchell placed in the top 10 her first year and in the top five in every other year. This year she also won the low medal for having the lowest score the first day and the putting contest.

"I'm real proud of her," her mom Cecilia said. "She played well and I'm proud of how she did. She works so hard."

Her parents aren't the only ones who have noticed her sportsmanship and talent.

Alton Starling played with her in a scramble, which they won, and said she is an excellent golfer.

"She's a well mannered kid who has the right attitude for golf," he said. "And I think it's a compliment to her parents to have a kid at that age with that kind of attitude."

Besides her work ethic, Mitchell has a few other things that work to her advantage.

First, it's almost certain her gift of golf is inherited. Her dad is a lifetime golfer and the golf pro at the Troy Country Club and is the one who helped spark the interest in his daughter.

"They are exactly alike," laughed her mother.

Mitchell also has an older brother, Eric, who is on the golf team at Central Alabama Community College.

"He's helped me a lot," Mitchell said. "He let me play with him and his friends a lot."

Because the pool of lady golfers is a little shallow, playing with the guys is something Mitchell is used to. In fact, she's the only girl on the Charles Henderson High School golf team.

Her dad said playing with boys gives his daughter an edge when she competes in women's golf tournaments.

"The ladies play 80 percent of the yardage," he said. "So really they play each hole 20 percent shorter than they guys."

When Mitchell plays at the country club or on the CHHS golf team, she actually has to hit the ball farther than she does at the tournaments she plays in.

For Mitchell, golf is never boring.

"There's a lot of strategy," she said. "I take notes during the practice round and use them while I play."

Her dad said she is good at knowing what club to use and what her yardage is.

Mitchell has played in a number of tournaments in the past five years all over the state and her mom said she is good at playing on new courses and meeting new people. But her favorite tournament by far is the WAGA tournament she just won.

Mitchell will keep two of her four awards for one year, when they will be passed to the 2004 WAGA Junior Championship winner.