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Girl golfers making presence known in IVJGA

July 07, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

Alissa Koon and Erica Smith may not be the best golfers competing in the Imperial Valley Junior Golf Association's summer season, but the Brawley Union High School students face tough competition in some of the top high school golfing talent in the Imperial Valley.

Neither has an IVJGA victory under her belt, but because they are the only girls competing in the association they are role models for other girls in the Valley wanting to take to the links.

On Friday, competing in the second annual Terry Martin Memorial tournament and the second IVJGA tournament of the summer, Koon narrowly missed making IVJGA history as she took third place in the majors division. Koon shot an 81 behind winner Luis Marquez with a 75 and runner-up Frankie Thomas with a 77.

"I think I did pretty good out there," said the 17-year-old Koon, who will be a senior next fall at Brawley Union High School. "Even though I didn't win, that 81 I shot was the best score I've ever had. So that feels pretty good."

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But it's not just turning in one of the top scores in her division that is satisfying to Koon, it's competing on the same level as her male competition and fairing well against them.

"It's kind of fun playing with the guys because people are always saying that the guys are better and this and that. But I'm out there playing with them and doing better than some of them," said Koon, who is a member of the Brawley girls golf team and was named Imperial Valley League player of the year last season. "Sure, I'd like to see more girls out here, so maybe we could start our own division. Maybe Erica and I could be like a promotion and set examples for other girls who want to come out here and play and compete."

Koon and Smith are determined to show girls can play on the same level as the boys. While other girls may look at competing alongside boys as intimidating, Smith and Koon say it is anything but.

"The guys aren't intimidating at all. In fact, they're more helpful than anything. They're always trying to help us get better to improve the competition. Playing with them really isn't a big deal to us, but for other girls, it could be," said the 15-year-old Smith, who will be a junior at Brawley Union High and also competes on the girls' golf team.

For the tournament, Smith shot a 104, which was near the bottom of the majors division, but it's the time put in on IVJGA tournaments that she and Koon feel will be the difference when the regular high school season begins in September.

If anything, getting ready for the high school season is the main reason the two compete in the IVJGA. While their competition is out doing something else, Koon and Smith are out on the links in the 100-degree weather, improving their games.

Said Guy Yturralde, who runs the IVJGA: "I think competing out here (in the IVJGA) is actually better for the girls than the guys because the girls season starts right after our season is over. So in that sense, this is very helpful for them.

"I'd love to see more girls out here, so we could start a girls' division. In the five years that the IVJGA has been around, we've only had five girls come out here. We have cities in the Valley with high school girls' teams, but those girls just haven't made the connection with the IVJGA. The opportunity for them is here and they are more than welcome to come out."

In other IVJGA action, 14-year-old Tyler Douthitt once again walked away with a victory shooting a 65 in the championship division, defeating Bobby Kirby in a sudden-death playoff on the second hole. Trevor Tagg took third place, carding a 69. The win was Douthitt's second victory of the IVJGA season.

In the minors division, Christian Marquez turned in a 44 to claim the win, followed by Martin Salgado's 49.

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