Jacqueline Putrino, a two-time, 3A state champion, leaves high school golf in favor of bigger events
What does a two-time state girls golf champion do for an encore?
Jacqueline Putrino decided not to have one.
Putrino, whose family moved from Sarasota to Lakewood National over the winter, is an academic senior through Florida Virtual School. She competed on the Riverview High golf team for three seasons, winning the Class 3A state title twice, the latter event helping the Rams win the team state title as well. Putrino, a Florida State commit, wrestled with whether to return for the chance at another.
Ultimately, she decided against it.
"Being part of a team was so fun," Putrino said. "My teammates were awesome and the coaching staff and the Riverview faculty were great. It was a fun three years. But I want to play in some big tournaments and the high school calendar would have interfered with those. I feel like going against the competition at those events will make me a better player and I have to think about my future."
The first of those big tournaments is the American Junior Golf Association's PING Invitational, which begins Oct. 8 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Putrino will be going against a majority of the AJGA's top 35-ranked girls golfers at the event.
Putrino, who is ranked No. 17 in the nation, said she has heard from friends that the course at Karsten Creek is challenging and that she is excited by the challenge.
Without the high school season commitment, she will be ready. Putrino has been working with Coach David Whelan, who has worked with the LPGA Tour's Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda among other professional golfers. Putrino said Whelan convinced her to change her grip, going from a weak grip to a stronger grip.
"It felt weird at first," Putrino said. "When you change your grip it feels like you can't hit the ball. But I worked through that and now it is so much better. It brings me more consistency."
Putrino said that change as well as other small changes have her feeling confident heading into the meat of her new golf schedule. Whether she plays well is only part of her concern this year. Putrino is balancing her competitive side with having fun.
This is her last hurrah as a junior golfer before she attends Florida State. As much fun as she knows she will have there — her older friends have relayed stories from their teams — she also wants to cherish these last junior tournaments. Putrino said she has been reflecting on her junior career lately, shocked at how fast it has flown by.
"Everything is happening," Putrino said. "In a way it makes me focus even more than I was. It's all or nothing now. I only have one more chance to play in these events so I have to make the most of them."
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