Stevenson celebrates winning tourney title
by Chris Byess
cbyess@cherokeetribune.com
September 09, 2012 01:31 AM | 1240 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The success Whitney Stevenson experienced during the spring at Creekview, she extended into the summer. It was a run highlighted by the Athens Junior Shootout in the final weekend of August, when Stevenson won her first two-day tournament on the first hole of a playoff.
<BR>Tribune photo by Todd Hull
The success Whitney Stevenson experienced during the spring at Creekview, she extended into the summer. It was a run highlighted by the Athens Junior Shootout in the final weekend of August, when Stevenson won her first two-day tournament on the first hole of a playoff.
Tribune photo by Todd Hull
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Less than two months after placing third in a college prep series at Clemson University, Creekview senior Whitney Stevenson won her first two-day tournament — the Athens Junior Shootout late last month at the Georgia Club in Statham.

After shooting a first-round 71 that placed herself atop the leaderboard, Stevenson squandered a six-shot lead by shooting a 78 to end the second round deadlocked with Anna Buchanan of Athens.

Stevenson won on the ensuing playoff hole, cementing her victory over the rest of the field.

“This was the biggest tournament I have ever won,” Stevenson said. “It was such a great feeling.”

After her late second-round slump that allowed Buchanan to tie her, Stevenson was excited to have the chance to try and win the tournament on a playoff hole.

“I was so excited to see that we were going back out to play because I felt like I needed to go back out and redeem myself after my slow finish,” said Stevenson, who also won last year’s county championship on a playoff hole. “I was able to stay in the moment and not think about the previous holes or my score.”

According to Stevenson’s personal coach, former LPGA Tour player Denise Killeen, the playoff hole was a short one, which played right into Stevenson’s strengths.

“We have been working really hard on her irons and ball-striking within 100 yards of the hole in practice,” Killeen said. “On the playoff hole, the work paid off.”

“I spent much more time practicing my short game than usual,” Stevenson said. “My chipping around the greens was definitely the best part of my game.”

For Killeen, Stevenson’s ability to hold on and win the tournament after losing the lead was more impressive than winning the playoff hole.

“The hardest thing to do in a multi-day tournament is to hold onto a lead,” Killeen said. “It takes a lot out of you mentally and physically. After shooting so well on the first day, it’s very hard to come out on the second day with the same intensity. She let it slide in the middle of the second round, and it was a wake-up call.”

Killeen believes this won’t be the last tournament Stevenson wins.

“In the last year, she has become so much of a better ball-striker, and her short game has improved 400 percent,” the coach said. “We have some high hopes for her. She’s not just a good player, but a smart kid as well. I think (the community) will see a lot more of her in the coming future.”
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