After sixth-place finish at state, Mehlville golfer to play for SIU-C next year

By JUSTINE POPE

Anyone who plays golf knows mental outlook can shape a player’s performance.

Mehlville High School senior Alisha Matthews struggled with that voice in her head during her sixth-place finish at the Missouri Girls’ State Golf Championships at the Silo Ridge Golf and Country Club.

After placing second in 2006, Matthews had hopes of winning a title her senior season. But rounds of 76 and 80 earned her sixth place over the two-day event this year.

“I wasn’t really happy with it,” Matthews told the Call. “I wanted to win, of course, but I played my best and I just had a few holes the second day that messed up my entire round.”

After Matthews lost her ball on the 14th hole that second day, her thoughts betrayed her.

“I was playing pretty well up till then, I think I was like one or two over,” she recalled. “I got into some trouble in the trees and had to pitch out into the fairway …”

She ended up with a bogey on the 13th hole, and when the group Matthews was playing with arrived at the 14th tee, tournament officials were waiting on them.

“We got put on the clock because two of the girls I was playing with were slow,” she said. “I’m thinking I can’t get another penalty stroke because I’m playing bad already.

“I hit a really good drive, but we couldn’t find it in the tall grass and that was the ball I lost. I had to go back and re-tee and I ended up taking a double (bogey) on that hole. That’s when my head started getting to me. I was thinking you need to start making birdies. You need to make up for what you just did or you’re not going to end up shooting very well. So losing the ball really impacted my head. I bogeyed the next hole, made a par and bogeyed the last hole.”

Two girls in her group were penalized for slow play.

“… Myself and another girl in the group were not penalized. Only two of the girls were penalized because they clocked them at bad times. And they told us that at the end of the round, so I worried for three or four holes that they would penalize me because I was playing in a slow group.

“At the 18th green, they told me that you’re not penalized and these two girls are,” Matthews said.

Still, the slow play threw off her game.

“The slowness really bothered me,” she said. “I’m not a really fast player, but I don’t like to be held back. Some of the girls were taking four or five practice swings and I take one or two max. If you play with anybody that’s slower than you, any player will say that it might bother them because you spend so much time and you start thinking too much, and that was one of my problems.”

Matthews practiced at Chesterfield, a course Coach Gary Peterson thought would be similar to Silo Ridge before the championship event.

“Me and Coach Pearson went out to Chesterfield and we practiced out on the greens a lot. The greens at Silo are pretty fast and the greens at Quail Creek, our home course, aren’t that fast. That helped me a lot,” Matthews said. “My short game was really good and that saved me from shooting a higher number because I didn’t hit the ball very well.”

Matthews also was familiar with playing a variety of courses, which worked to her advantage at Silo Ridge.

“It wasn’t too different. I’ve played a lot of different courses. (Silo Ridge) is set up pretty nice for me — the distance is good. It wasn’t too tight and narrow,” she said.

The winner of the state tournament was Catherine Dolan, a Parkway West senior who shot a 146. Howell Central’s Mabrie Cain, who finished second with a 149, tied with Dolan after the first day.

“The girl that won played awesome for two days,” Matthews said. “The girl from Howell shot a career best.”

Matthews had played against Dolan before and beaten her, but was impressed with her performance in the tournament.

“We’ve played a lot in the past. I’ve only played with her once in the past season and her game has really improved.”

Next fall, Matthews will attend Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and play on the Saluki golf team.

She plans on majoring in graphic design or business, possibly with an emphasis in golf management.

“I’m going to play golf at Carbondale. I’m really excited about it. The coach’s personality is really flamboyant and she’s a really cool person,” Matthews said of SIU-C Coach Diane Daugherty. “I’m really excited about playing with her team.”

Matthews, daughter of Jody and Brian Matthews, selected SIU-C after much deliberation.

“It was a hard long process. It came between Carbondale, Missouri State and Bradley. Missouri State needed an answer and I wasn’t quite ready. He gave me another week. It came down to I felt like me and Coach Daugherty really clicked whenever I met her. It was really hard to tell Missouri State because Coach (Kevin) Kane was the first coach I started talking to in the recruiting process and we developed a really long relationship. I felt like I was letting him down telling him I wasn’t going to school.”