The talented teenagers of the female golf world are all the rage lately, what with Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer in the news and a full 16 of them playing in last week's U.S. Women's Open.
Pasadena residents Stephanie Connelly, a senior at Northeast, and Julia Huh, who graduated from Northeast in June, are among that core of golfers trying to be the next Nancy Lopez or Annika Sorenstam -- and both have been playing in a host of events this summer.
Connelly was the medalist at the U.S. Girls' Junior sectional qualifier at Merion West outside Philadelphia last week, carding a 71 to earn a spot in the 156-player field that begins play July 19 in Fort Worth. It is the premier junior girls' event in the nation, and Connelly is making her third appearance. She made the round of 16 in 2002.
Huh, who also has twice competed at the Girls' Junior, barely missed making it a third time. Playing at the same sectional with Connelly, Huh shot 79 and tied with four other players for the final two spots. She lost in a playoff on the first extra hole.
"That was the worst feeling in the world. I really wanted to make it again for my last year" of eligibility, said Huh, who will attend Mississippi State on a golf scholarship this fall. "Every day can't be your day, so I guess that just wasn't mine."
Huh did get a thrill the week before, however. She played in the U.S. Women's Public Links in Williamsburg, Va., against some of the top female amateurs in the nation.
She shot 78-76 for a 10-over 154 and missed advancing to the match play rounds but still came away with a positive experience.
"I had a chance to play [at] their [high] level," said Huh. She added that playing with the top amateurs in the nation "makes you want to play better because you don't want to place last. You want to beat them. When you play with players not as good you tend to slack off."
Huh also finished second in last week's Maryland Girls' Junior, shooting 1 over par and losing on the third playoff hole to Marlowe Boukis of Lutherville.
Meanwhile, Connelly got a boost from her father, Michael, at a recent AJGA tournament in Ashland, Ky. After shooting a 76 in the first round of the three-day event, Connelly lost confidence in her Odyssey putter and wanted to change to her Ping Isopure model, which was at home in Pasadena. Her dad made the five-hour drive with the Ping club and arrived before the second round, and Connelly shot 74-73 over the final two rounds to finish fourth.
"I just stroked it a little better," said Connelly. "Every now and then if you're not having luck with one putter, you make a change."