Salpointe Catholic sophomore Haylin Harris found herself in Tulsa, Oklahoma, three months ago, trying to prove she was one of the best golfers in the country.
At the US Girls' Junior Championship, Harris needed to make a downhill, right-to-left putt on a playoff hole to sneak into the field of 64.
She made the putt, securing her spot as one of the nation's best.
“My favorite part of golfing is when I have a lot of pressure with a putt and I have to take my time to try to figure out the perfect read,” Harris said. “And then, try to make it.”
Since finishing her first high school season as Division II's state runner-up, Harris has carried that confidence into this season, as the Lancers have moved up to play stiffer competition in Division I.
“It gives me a lot of confidence because I've been in that position before, so I kind of know what to do,” Harris said. “I try to just get my mindset back to where I have, that same focus and concentration. I've done it so many times over the years it kind of just happens naturally.”
Salpointe Catholic enters the 36-hole state tournament at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen ranked second while Harris sits at No. 11 in the individual rankings. The Lancers will have its work cut out for them against top-ranked Phoenix Xavier, the four-time defending champion. (Local tee times listed below).
The Star caught up with Harris last week as the Lancers prepared for the state tournament. Here is what she had to say:
What has the move up to Division I done for your game?
A: It pushes me and doesn't allow me to slack off or lose my train of thought and concentration. I have to stay focused for all 18 holes against better competition. Its a little tougher. Our main competitor has been Xavier, I can't wait to play them at state.
What did last season's Division II state tournament runner-up finish teach you?
A: Last year, on the first day, I struggled. I was a little bit off and that's because of my shots that went off the side of the fairway and hit some trees. I didn't have a lot of confidence with those shots I was playing. The main thing I got out of that was to just commit to the shot and go after it. You really can't think about it, it's hard not to. But when I have a bad hole, I just try to calm myself down and I take my time on the tee and try to get my train of thought back.
What do you do well as a golfer?
A: When I'm hitting the ball well, I hit the ball very straight and consistent. I'm usually a pretty good putter, too.
How are you feeling heading into state? What have you been working on?
A: I'm feeling pretty good. I've been struggling with my game a little bit, but I've been working really hard. I'm figuring some things out, but I think I'll be ready for state this year. I've been working on my long game, I've been kind of struggling and haven't been hitting as well as I normally do.
What the toughest part about golf?
A: It's more of the mental part of the game. It takes a lot of work, a lot of concentration to focus for 18 holes and not fall apart. It just takes a lot of practice. I basically practice everyday of the week, a couple of hours a day. If I just played, I'll work on the thing I need to most.
What has recruitment been like for you so far?
A: I've received a letter of interest from 22 schools and have six full-ride scholarship offers. I have scholarships from Mississippi State, Michigan State, Furman, Clemson, Auburn and Virginia Tech. Gonna keep it up.
FIRST-ROUND TEE TIMES FOR SOUTHERN ARIZONA PLAYERS
Division I boys
Wednesday and Thursday at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen
Tee times have not been announced.
Division I girls
Monday and Tuesday at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen
First-round tee times – Haylin Harris, Salpointe Catholic, 7:30 a.m.; Lily Nielsen, Ironwood Ridge, 7:30 a.m.; Alexandra Quihuis, Salpointe Catholic, 7:38 a.m.; Abby Miller, Ironwood Ridge, 7:38 a.m.; Araceli Esquivel, Salpointe Catholic, 7:46 a.m.; Allison Acosta, Ironwood Ridge, 7:46 a.m.; Annabelle Huether, Salpointe Catholic, 7:54 a.m.; Aspen Thies, Ironwood Ridge, 7:54 a.m.; Maddison Davis, Salpoite Catholic, 8:02 a.m.; Mikayla Gallo, Ironwood Ridge, 8:02 a.m.; Brianna Lewis, Sierra Vista Buena, 9:14 a.m.
Division II boys
Monday and Tuesday at Randolph North Golf Course
First-round tee times – Gavin Cohen, Catalina Foothills, 8 a.m.; Trevor Werbylo, Salpointe Catholic, 8 a.m.; Jake Goode, Catalina Foothills, 8:09 a.m.; Eric Duarte, Salpointe Catholic, 8:09 a.m.; Tyler Blohm, Catalina Foothills, 8:18 a.m.; Derek Lozier, Salpointe Catholic, 8:18 a.m.; Reece Nilsen, Catalina Foothills, 8:27 a.m.; Joseph Kennedy, Salpointe Catholic, 8:27 a.m.; TBD, Catalina Foothills, 8:36 a.m.; Cole Harris, Salpointe Catholic, 8:36 a.m.; Austin Rustand, Sabino, 8:45 a.m.; Alex Gray, Sabino, 8:54 a.m.; Austin Mauerhan, Sabino, 9:03 a.m.; Chaisen Alloway, Sabino, 9:12 a.m.; Ryan Gee, Sabino, 9:21 a.m.; Sam Salsbury, Walden Grove, 10:24 a.m.; Gunner Chesney, Walden Grove, 10:33 a.m. Hogan Gloy, Walden Grove, 10:42 a.m.; Sajen Benson-Uhlig, Walden Grove, 10:51 a.m.; Joshua Crest, Walden Grove, 11 a.m.; John Flore, Marana, 11:09 a.m.; Justin Fischer, Rio Rico, 11:09 a.m.; Ryan Smith, Sahuarita, 11:18 a.m.; Kyle Stachel, Mountain View, 11:18 a.m.; Dylan Telford, Marana, 12:30 p.m.
Division II girls
Monday and Tuesday at Dell Urich Golf Course
First-round tee times – Taylor Hughes, Sahuaro, 8 a.m.; Kathryn Ottman, Sahuaro, 8:09 a.m.; Hailey Hughes, Sahuaro, 8:18 a.m.; Serenity Guerrero, Sahuaro, 8:27 a.m.; Cameron Carr, Sahuaro, 8:36 a.m.; Elizabeth Carter, Catalina Foothills, 8:45 a.m.; Alyza Flore, Cienega, 8:45 a.m.; Hannah May, Canyon del Oro, 8:45 a.m.; Kassy Tejeda, Catalina Foothills, 8:54 a.m.; Brooke Caldwell, Cienega, 8:54 a.m.; Brenna Griesser, Canyon del Oro, 8:54 a.m.; Cody Hutchinson, Catalina Foothills, 9:03 a.m.; Katelyn Hutchinson, Cienega, 9:03 a.m.; Hannah Bort, Canyon del Oro, 9:03 a.m.; Lizzie Miller, Catalina Foothills, 9:12 a.m.; Gabriella Waer, Cienega, 9:12 a.m.; Alexis Federico, Canyon del Oro, 9:12 a.m.Ellie Jobst, Catalina Foothills, 9:21 a.m.; Morgan King, Cienega, 9:21 a.m.; Parker Fleetwood, Canyon del Oro, 9:21 a.m.; Jessica Williams, Amphitheater, 10:24 a.m.; Marisol Benavidez, Marana, 11:00 a.m.; Alexis Pico, Marana, 11:09 a.m.