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Folsom golfer has bright future

By: Matt Long
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Folsom’s Paige Lee is only 16 but will test her golf game against the best women amateur players in the country this week when she participates in the U. S. Women’s Amateur Championships in Rhode Island. After 36 holes of stroke play, the top-64 golfers advance to match play. If Lee makes the cut, which is her initial goal, she will likely miss the first day of her junior year of high school on Thursday, which is when the doors at Granite Bay High open for another school year. Lee qualified for the U. S. Women’s Amateur Tournament on July 11 at her home course of North Ridge Country Club in Fair Oaks off of Madison Avenue. Lee went to a three-person playoff for the final two spots and birdied the first playoff hole, sinking a 40-foot putt to earn a spot in the tournament. “I was excited when I qualified,” Lee said. “My goal is to definitely make the cut and then just see what happens.” It’s been a great summer for Lee, who’s spent the time off from school playing golf and doing little else. She’s played in about 20 tournaments since school ended in the spring. After qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur on July 11, she finished tied for 21st in the Junior World Golf Championships by shooting a three-over par 299 on the North Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course. The following week at the 63rd U.S. Girls Junior Championships at Olympia Fields, Ill., Lee finished tied for 14th with a four-over-par 148 over 36 holes. Lee followed that tournament by winning the 2011 Girls Junior Americas Cup held at Genoa Lakes Golf Club and Resort in Nevada, helping the Northern California team to a team title by shooting a seven-under-par, 209 over 54 holes. Just last week she finished tied for fourth with a two-over 218 over 54 holes at the Stockton Convention and Visitors Bureau Junior Open, played at The Reserve at Spanos Park. “It’s definitely been a good year and I accomplished a lot this summer,” Lee said. “Making it to the USGA Girls Junior Championships and finishing tied for 14th out of 156 girls is problem the highlight of my career. I did pretty well there.” Lee has also been an integral part of Granite Bay High’s golf team, which last year qualified for the Masters Tournament. Lee, herself advanced to the state tournament and finished tied for fourth place. She hopes to lead the team back to Masters again this year and would love to qualify for the state tournament again, as the tournament will be played on her favorite course, Poppy Hills, where she’s previously shot a round of five-under-par. When she’s not playing in tournaments, Lee is practices. Lee is at the course six days a week, practicing three to four hours a day. On the weekends she’s there pretty much from sun-up to sun-down. Meanwhile, the letters from college coaches keep coming. Lee’s mom, Pia, estimates that at least 40 colleges have sent recruitment letters to her daughter. Lee’s swing coach, Mike Galli, who’s also the head pro at North Ridge Country Club, says Lee can do it all. “She’s very mentally tough and doesn’t easily get frazzled,” Galli said. “She’s very focused and determined. I think her strongest aspect is her work ethic. She’s just got the whole package.” Lee said her irons/approach shots are the strength of her game, while the drives and the putting need the most work. Lee hopes to earn a college scholarship to play golf and hopes to one day be a professional golfer.