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Sarasota Thursday, Jul. 12, 2018 3 years ago

Sarasota Athlete of the Week: Aaron Whitley

The golfer talks winning championships and her love of garlic bread.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Editor

Aaron Whitley is a rising sophomore on the Riverview High girls golf team. She won the 13-15 division of the Florida State Golf Association's Girls Junior Amateur Championship at Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach on June 29, shooting a three-round total of 216. 

When did you start playing golf?

When I was 10, and I got serious around 12. My dad (Kent Whitley) played, and when I was bored one day he took me to the driving range. I fell in love with it right away. 

What is the appeal to you?

I'm a competitive person. I want to win and be good at everything I do. I happened to be naturally good at golf.

What is your best skill?

I'll say my short game. I'm a well-rounded player, so there's not specifically one area that stands out, but my short game helped me win (the Girls Junior Amateur Championship). 

Did you expect to win the championship?

No. (laughs.) Last year, I didn't even make the cut, so my mom (Danielle Whitley) didn't pay for a third night at our hotel this year. I have improved a lot since last year, though. I have been working hard in practice and my scores have improved. 

Was that your favorite golf memory?

Yeah. I loved getting to spend a lot of time with my friends. We partied in our hotel at night, and when I won, they all poured water on me, which was funny.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in golf?

I used to get nervous when I first started. Teeing up on the first hole was hard. I had to learn to not be so nervous and forget about the pressure on me. It came through more experience. I'm used to it now.

What is your favorite food?

Garlic bread, specifically my friend Jacqueline Putrino's mom's (Regina Putrino) garlic bread. There's a secret ingredient but she won't tell me what it is. It's just so crunchy and good.

What is your dream vacation?

It's golf-related, but I'd love to visit Pebble Beach Golf Links in California. That course just looks so fun, I'd love to go play it. 

What is your biggest fear?

Embarrassing myself in front of a bunch of people. If I played golf on live TV and messed up, that would probably be it. Also, snakes.

What is the best advice you have received?

Have fun! Don't worry how you play, just have fun. 

Finish this sentence: "Aaron Whitley is ... "

... Crazy, funny, amazing and awesome. That's what people say about me (laughs). 

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I’m the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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