U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Four Sides Have Ties to Dominant Arizona High School May 22, 2016 | Bowling Green, Fla. By Lisa D. Mickey

Arizona girls' golf powerhouse Xavier Prep is well represented this week at Streamsong Blue. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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When it comes to standout girls’ high school golf programs, few can match the accomplishments of Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix, Ariz. The all-girls private school has claimed 33 state championships since 1980.

Notable alums include 1982 U.S. Girls’ Junior and 1984 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Heather Farr, 1998 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Grace Park, 2008 Women’s Amateur champion Amanda Blumenherst and 2011 Women’s Amateur Public Links medalist Cheyenne Woods. Hannah O’Sullivan, the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion who is No. 1 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, attended the school for two years before transferring to a public school closer to her Chandler, Ariz., home for her senior year.

This week, four current Xavier girls’ team members, along with one incoming freshman and head coach Thuhashini (Tui) Selvaratnam, are in the field of the 2nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Streamsong Resort. Selvaratnam already owns a USGA title, having helped Arizona win the USGA Women’s State Team Championship in 2007, a year after her runner-up finish in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.

Seniors Alisa Snyder and Mikayla Fitzpatrick, both of Phoenix, are teaming together, while juniors Elizabeth Caldarelli, of Scottsdale, and Emily Mahar, of Brisbane, Australia, are partnering.

In addition, incoming freshman Ashley Menne, of Surprise, Ariz., is competing with Lauren Metcalf, of Yuma, Ariz.,, who doesn’t attend Xavier.

“We have a great tradition in golf at Xavier,” said Selvaratnam, a native of Sri Lanka who played at nearby Arizona State University and is now in her 10th season as the team’s co-head coach. “It’s fun to see how players mature and become good young women representing the school.”

Selvaratnam is teaming with Minnesota native Mari Miezwa for the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, and the side missed the cut after posing scores of 72-76.

Much of Xavier’s success can be traced to the guiding hands of Sister Lynn Winsor, who has coached the Gator golf program for 40 years, adding four state runner-up finishes and 23 regional golf championships to the school’s 33 state victories. Xavier has gone undefeated the last 10 years, winning nine state championships during that span.

Players who wear a Xavier golf shirt know there is a tradition to uphold, wherever they compete.

“You want to play well, not only for Xavier, but also for the state of Arizona,” said Snyder, 17, the 2015 Arizona state individual champion and a left-hander who has signed to play for the University of Michigan this fall. “There are four teams from Arizona here this week, so we want them all to play well in the championship.”

Snyder and Fitzpatrick, who garnered the final match-play spot in a 4-for-3 playoff that concluded on Monday, are good friends off the course, which has made this week’s championship more enjoyable for the seniors.

“We always go back and forth in making the shots, so that’s what makes us a great team,” said Fitzpatrick, 17, a 2014-2015 finalist for the USGA/AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, who will continue the Xavier tradition in college when she plays for the Cincinnati-based Division I university this fall.

Caldarelli and Mahar rallied to shoot a 4-under 68 in Sunday’s final stroke-play to likely qualify for match play with a 36-hole total of 3-under 141. After playing on Xavier’s 2015 state championship team, the juniors planned on using the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball as a building block for the fall when they hope to lend senior leadership to the program.

“It’s a challenge to play at Xavier, but it makes you want to be at your best to go into the school’s record books with so many great players,” said Caldarelli, 16, who plans to play for Texas A&M in 2017. “It’s really cool to be able to come here this week and play a national championship with some of my teammates.”

Mahar learned about Xavier’s golf program when she decided to attend high school in the United States. Her goal was to play team golf, but also to focus on academics to earn a scholarship to a U.S. college.

“I didn’t realize how great the team was before I came here, but the bar is really high,” said Mahar, 16, who finished third in the 2015 Arizona state championship and plans to attend Virginia Tech in 2017.

Menne, 14, played in junior tournaments with Xavier players and took notice when the Gators regularly won state championships.

She moved to Arizona from Singapore four years ago, so when she learned that Xavier offered Mandarin Chinese, she wanted to continue speaking the language while polishing her golf game.

“I wanted to be a part of the team and it sets a goal for me to hopefully get that good,” said Menne, who missed the cut after posting 1-over 145 with Metcalf. “My goal is to get a college golf scholarship.”

Menne has been embraced by her future Xavier teammates this week, but those upperclassmen also understand the responsibility that comes with the tradition of a winning program.

“We want to set a good example for others on and off the course,” said Snyder, when asked how they hope to influence future Xavier players.

“We want to show Ashley we have what it takes, both in the classroom and on the course,” added Fitzpatrick, who holds a 4.35 grade-point average. “But we also want to show that you always have to work for it.”

Lisa Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

 

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