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Kaitlyn Riley is a senior now and with that designation comes an all-new perspective on how she wants to end the golf season.
“I hope I make it. That was my goal (in previous years),” Riley says of the state high school tournament. “This year, I want to be top 10.”
It's a lofty goal in a sport where one bad swing, one misplay of the wind or one error in judging distance can be the difference between a championship joy and the tears of coming up short.
But that might be exactly why Riley can succeed. It's all a matter of the game being played in her mind.
“If Kaitlyn has a bad hole, she knows she can make those shots up,” Anderson County head coach Todd Hyatt says. “She just keeps plugging and doesn't let anything bother her. She knows her game and trusts her game.”
Two years ago, Riley was involved in a playoff hole for an individual state berth. Her demeanor and determination shined in those few strokes at Connemara, in Nicholasville. After a so-so tee shot, Riley nailed her second shot and qualified with room to spare.
Riley says such is just part of the game. There is no finger-pointing.
“With golf, you only have yourself to blame,” she says about errant shots. “You just go out there and do your best.”
If Riley can do her best, she will likely set Anderson County history. Another state tournament berth would be Riley's fourth in the sport, something no Anderson golfer, boy or girl, has ever done.
A top 10 finish is also on Riley's agenda for Bowling Green. No Anderson golfer, boy or girl, has ever pulled that off.
Riley enters her senior season coming off a different summer schedule than in the past. Instead of playing in many Pepsi Tour events, Riley has spent much of her time playing her home course at Wild Turkey Trace. She did take a break to play in the State Am, held in London. Riley advanced to the third round of that match-play tournament. She has also played in a few other tourneys.
Western Kentucky, Morehead State and the University of the Cumberlands are among the schools that have been in contact with Riley, who wants to major in biology. She says there is no favorite for her college choice at this time, preferring to keep her options open.
“Your senior year, there is supposed to be pressure,” Riley says with a grin. “I am just going to soak it up and enjoy it.”
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