Portland resident drives home a win
Though 11-year-old Kate Ly might admit she's motivated by candy, her golf game remains steady despite being fueled by chocolate.
"Kate's always been very competitive. She is very motivated by candy, FYI, and I know this, so we do a lot of little challenges," said Meurig Morgan, who's been Kate's golf coach at the Lake Oswego Public Golf Course for the last two years.
Kate's motivation and drive is shown through her recent success.
Kate, a Hosford Middle School student in Portland, qualified and will advance to the National PGA Drive, Chip and Putt Competition next April at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia — about a week before the Masters Tournament.
The free junior competition for youth ages 7-15 was founded in 2013 by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America, and is broadcast live by the Golf Channel.
The competition focuses on three fundamental skills employed by golfers — the drive, chip and putt — and girls and boys will play in separate divisions that are split up by age groups.
In order to qualify for nationals, participants had to advance through local, sub-regional and regional competitions that began this past summer.
"I think it's epic that she qualified. It's a huge tournament," Morgan said.
Growing up, Kate, her parents and her 15-year-old sister, Kyra, started playing golf together as a relaxing family activity, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that Kate decided to become more serious about the sport.
"My sister started playing and I wanted to try and I thought it was really fun," Kate said. "You just feel free."
Kate joined the PGA Junior League when she was 8 and started taking private lessons with Morgan. Since she started playing golf more seriously, Kate has played in about 15 tournaments a year through the Oregon Junior Golf Association.
"When I first started I didn't really care what I was doing, I just wanted to hit the ball," Kate said. "Now I try to hit it straight and far."
Morgan said both Kate and her sister are very motivated and disciplined players and that he's seen a steady progression in Kate's golf skill development.
"You could see there was something in her (Kate) that was very unique," Morgan said. "She had that gift to really kind of push herself."
Kate says her ultimate goal is to win the tournament, a competition she never thought she would qualify for.
"It doesn't feel real because I didn't think I was actually going to make it," Kate said. "Some people came from California and Texas, and I didn't think I was good enough."
She added that knowing she's good enough now makes her happy, though she's nervous to have the tournament televised because she "doesn't like the attention."
Morgan said Kate's ability to remain level while playing golf will give her a leg up in the competition.
"You do not know if she's doing well or bad," said Morgan, adding that there's other young players who show their emotions, making it difficult to focus on the game. "She's incredibly focused."
Nationals will be Sunday, April 5, 2020 and Kate is looking forward to learning more about the competition and is excited to see how it feels to be a part of something "big and on television."
While Kate's dream is to be a professional golfer, for now she will continue practicing, keeping her drives on the fairway, and her putts and chips close to the hole.
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