By Jeff Babineau
Boca Raton, Fla. – Four members of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) High School girls golf team were watching Saturday’s action from behind the ropes at Boca Rio. On Wednesday, they got to experience life inside those ropes, participating in – and winning! – the Wednesday Baptist Health Pro-Am.
The girls – Angelina Marie Guertin, 15; Valentina Marie Guertin, 14; Kayla Bryant, 14; and Amelie Phung, 14 – have been playing golf together for about half their lives, and now are part of the team at nearby FAU High. They were paired for nine holes with Stacy Lewis and nine holes with Aditi Ashok. It was a day-long clinic in watching two standout LPGA competitors manage the course and build a strategy for the week at Boca Rio.
The girls enjoyed hearing their names announced as if they were professionals on the first tee, and spent a good part of the day listening to Aditi’s dad, Ashok Gudlamani, who caddies for his daughter.
“That was a first for me, personally,” said Aditi Ashok. “It was the first time that I got to play with juniors, and it was a lot of fun. Lots of birdies. It was great to play with the younger generation. I don’t get a chance to do that. I’m rarely home in India, so I don’t play much there, and on tour, pro-ams usually mean you are playing with older golfers.
“It shows how much the game has changed compared to when I was their age. They really hit it really far, and just the ideas they have on how they look to play golf, it was interesting to see. Obviously, all four of them are great golfers. One of the girls actually told me she had watched me in the Olympics and was hoping she would get me in the pro-am.”
Asked about the pro-am pairing with four high school players, Lewis also had a smile cross her face.
“It was awesome,” she said after shooting 72 on Saturday. “I wish I could have played 18 holes with them, to be honest. I was definitely not that good in the eighth and ninth grade. It’s amazing to see the talent, and how the girls are getting into it at younger ages, and having role models. I’m sure they love Nelly (Korda) and all the younger girls.
“But we had a blast, and they were awesome, too.”