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franklin county times

Girls rule junior golf

By Staff
GIRLS CLUB Junior golfers from this week's State Tournament at Briarwood were from left, Amanda Mathis, Leigh Phillips and Alexis Rather.Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
June 20, 2003
Annika. Schmannika. Beating the boys is no big deal for the top four junior girls' golfers in Mississippi. In fact, they do it quite often.
Much ado was made recently when LPGA golfer Annika Sorenstam played in the PGA Colonial tournament at Fort Worth, Texas, against the men.
That's something the top junior girls in Mississippi do all the time. They have no other choice if they wish to better their game.
No, they don't play the top PGA pros. But they do play the top male golfers in their age group.
The difference is these girls often come out as winners over many of the guys, something Sorenstam can't say she did.
The top four junior golfers (ages 16-18) in Mississippi are considered to be Amanda Mathis of Picayune, Alexis Rather of Tupelo, Katherine Jones of Jackson, and Leigh Phillips of Meridian.
Other than selected youth tournaments, any combination of that four playing against each other is rare. They're spread out pretty thin across the state. So that means playing the boys.
Even at their respective high schools, they must compete with the boys as neither the MHSAA or MPSA has separate golf teams for girls. There just aren't that many to go around.
Rather, who has signed with LSU, was medalist in the Region 1-5A tournament at Cherokee Valley at Olive Branch this spring with a 71. Tupelo finished fourth in the state in Class 5A at Caroline Country Club at Madison and Rather's two-day 154 was low for the Golden Wave.
Of the 80 boys who played in the 5A state tournament, Rather beat 69 and tied another.
Rather says she's the only girl in her age group that plays golf in Tupelo. She'd like to have Jones, Mathis, or Phillips to compete with more often, but knows it's not going to happen.
Mathis wore the MHSAA Class 4A medalist crown in 2002 and finished second this spring with a 147 at Brookhaven Country Club. She has signed with Mississippi State.
Of the 75 boys in this year's Class 4A state tournament, only Brandon Payne of West Jones with a 144 and Nick Beale of Pass Christian, who had a tying 147, escaped Mathis without a loss.
Jones has played against the boys at Jackson Prep. She'll do the same next spring at Jackson Academy after sitting out this year due to the MPSA transfer rule.
Mathis plays in the MHSAA where girls are allowed to tee off from the usually shorter women's tees, even though she and the guys are playing for the same medalist trophy.
Jones has played against the boys at Jackson Prep. She'll do the same next spring at Jackson Academy after sitting out this year due to the MPSA transfer rule.
Mathis plays in the MHSAA where girls are allowed to tee off from the usually shorter women's tees, even though she and the guys are playing for the same medalist trophy.

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