MUSTANG — Confidence is brewing for the Mustang girls golf team, and the timing couldn't be better.
Led by two college-bound players, June Tigert and Charter Lawson, the Broncos have won three straight events, including the Metro Conference and West regional tournaments, heading into the Class 6A state tournament on Wednesday and Thursday at Muskogee Country Club.
Union is the defending champion, and Jenks won six of the seven state crowns before that. Other than Edmond Memorial sneaking in to take the 2008 title, the Tulsa-area powers have dominated golf's biggest class.
Jenks and Union have been strong this year, too, but Mustang hopes that its 1-2 punch of Tigert and Lawson will help the Broncos make a run.
Experience will be very valuable this week, and Tigert and Lawson are battle-tested. They hope that provides them with an edge over some of the other players in the field.
“The more you experience the same situation, the better you get at handling it,” Tigert said. “Hopefully this year, it turns out a little better than last time. It's been nice to win some tournaments and gain some confidence with three in a row — hopefully we can make it four.”
Tigert, The Oklahoman's All-City Golfer of the Year last season, has seen her consistency rise and her scoring average fall as a senior. That was partly sparked by a strong summer performance that included shooting a 61 at Trosper Park.
The Redlands Community College signee finished fourth at state last year, and hopes to improve on that this week.
“I've been playing pretty consistent, which I like,” Tigert said. “Hopefully I can keep it up.”
Lawson had Mustang's best individual finish at state two years ago, coming in ninth as a sophomore. But it's tricky to gauge Lawson's improvement compared to last year, because she was in a much different situation then.
She spent the 2010-11 school year in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Jim McLean Golf Academy, basically spending half of the day in class and half on the course from August through May.
“We would go to school a couple hours a day, and we practiced golf about 60 hours a week,” she said. “It was a lot of fun, and I think I benefitted from it a lot. It really got me ready for this season.”
Lawson was one of eight golfers selected for the academy, which helped lower her scores and land a Division I scholarship at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“I met (professional players) Wendy Ward and Stephanie Louden and Jason Day,” she said. “It was really a lot of fun, and I learned a lot.
“I learned time management, and I learned to manage my game a lot better and not freak out so much when I hit a bad shot.”
In the process, it prepared Lawson for her senior season, which has included several high finishes.
Tigert and Lawson have been strong leaders for the team this year, and they plan to keep that going this week.
“We've proven that we can win, when everyone plays they way they're supposed to. There's a definite chance we can be up there with anyone,” Tigert said.
“We can't get nervous. Just go out and play. Don't go out and overthink everything, and just have fun.”
Girls golfers to watch
In addition to Mustang's duo of June Tigert and Charter Lawson, here are a few other metro-area golfers to keep an eye on at this week's state tournaments:
Anna Mikish and Kina Boone, Choctaw: Both have shown the ability to post low scores this season, including Boone's 68 to win the Metro Conference crown last week.
Allison Sell and Maddie Luitweiler, Edmond North: This duo has been consistently showing up near the top in good tournaments, each finishing in the top four at regionals last week.
Alexis Sadeghy and Caitlin Farris, Bishop McGuinness: Altus senior Megan Blonien, an Oklahoma State signee, has won three straight state tournaments, but the McGuinness girls are set on ending that streak. Both have been playing well lately, and finished 1-2 at regionals, with Sadeghy earning her second straight victory.
McCandren Lewis, Guthrie: Playing with confidence after a strong season that included a runner-up finish at regionals last week, one stroke ahead of Blonien.
Jordan Humphrey, Bethel: A runner-up showing in regionals could boost her to a strong 3A state tournament performance.
Kelsey Stuever, Washington: Has multiple wins this season, but will have to contend with regional champ Maci Arrington of Hinton on her home course in the 2A tournament.
By Scott Wright