GREEN TOWNSHIP — After one of the most consistent high school golf seasons in Clinton County history, Gabby Woods still had to conquer a three-time nemesis to reach her ultimate goal.
Woods, the Clinton-Massie senior, has finished 10th, 10th and 25th in the Division II Southwest District girls golf tournament at PipeStone Golf Course the past three years. Her 86 as a freshman was her district best until this season. She had a 95 at the district last year.
“PipeStone has been her Kryptonite,” CM girls golf coach Tim McGraw said. “She’s not really played well there.”
Last year during the practice round at PipeStone, McGraw said he knew Woods would struggle and she did.
“It hurt me,” Woods said of her 25th place finish in 2018. “It took a toll on me.”
But she realized — make that hoped — her 2018 finish would not be a harbinger of things to come on the golf course.
“I knew I had one year left. It was my senior year and I wanted to go out with a bang,” she said.
During the summer months leading up to the 2019 season, Woods won the Southern Ohio Junior PGA Championship. Once the high school season started, she beat the girls and even the boys, during two rounds of play in the SBAAC American Division.
“I felt like it was good for her to play longer courses against a little bit better competition to prepare her for tournament time,” said McGraw.
And winning against some talented male golfers didn’t hurt either.
“I never went in with the intention of beating them,” Woods said. “It gave me a great experience. It helped me in the long run.”
Woods was second at the Division II Hamilton Elks Sectional but still had to play well at PipeStone if she wanted to make the state tournament.
“I told her she had to go out there and own it,” McGraw said. “She’s worked 10 times harder on her game, not that she didn’t work hard before. I think last year’s disappointment hurt a lot.”
McGraw said Woods changed her swing this year “to prevent what she did last year from happening again.”
So even when she wasn’t striking the ball well, the coach said, her scores were still good.
“She’s been consistent all year long,” he said.
Another “C” word also has played a major role in Woods ascent to the top.
“In the game of golf, when you don’t trust what you’re doing, it’s hard to have confidence in yourself,” she said. “It’s a day by day sport. I tried to fix what was broken (with my swing) but ultimately had to fix the confidence in my game.”
LAST WEEK: Though she had earned a berth in the state tournament, Woods had a playoff for district medalist. She won but thinks that moment will pay-off this week.
“Last week going in to that playoff, having all those people watching you, that helped,” she said. “Standing over a five-foot putt thinking I’ve made this a thousand times, why can’t I make it a thousand and one.”
She made the putt and, more importantly, added confidence to an already confident game.
COLLEGE: Woods said she has a list of colleges she’s thinking about but won’t make a decision until after the state tournament. Her appearance and her finish this weekend may grow the list of interested suitors.
“This year has proven to me I have a lot of opportunities out there” she said. “I’m just going to choose the one that’s best for me.”
STATE SCHEDULE: In the 36-hole stroke play state tournament, Woods will put a tee in the ground on hole No. 1 at 10:50 a.m. Friday on Ohio State University’s Gray Course. Regardless of her finish on Friday, she’ll tee off at either 10:40 a.m. or 10:50 a.m. Saturday. If she is among the top six individuals, Woods will start on No. 1. If she is 7-12, she’ll go off on No. 10.