Finishing Strong

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After going wire-to-wire to win the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands, you might think that Ashley Armstrong has taken home a coveted AJGA trophy before. And she has. But it does not appear on her record.

Armstrong, Ashley Final Rd (6)

At the 2009 AJGA Notre Dame Junior Open, Armstrong was excited to win her first AJGA title after having trailed big in the second round.

“I was pumped up about my final round, signed my scorecard and went inside,” Armstrong said. “Some of the other girls came up and told me that I won because the leader had missed her putt on the 18th hole. I was very excited. I made my speech, got my trophy and was feeling pretty good.”

That was just the beginning of the excitement. Armstrong verbally committed to Notre Dame immediately after the awards ceremony. Carolyn Armstrong, Ashley’s mother, remembers her daughter’s joy.

“[Head Coach Susan Holt] had just offered her a full ride that day, right after the tournament,” Mrs. Armstrong said. “She was so happy. Nothing could bring her down. It wasn’t until the next morning that we realized what happened. She woke my husband up and said that she had to call and disqualify herself.”

In the excitement at the scoring tent, Armstrong failed to notice that her marker made a mistake, and she signed an incorrect scorecard.

“The next morning, my dad and I were going over my scorecard online and I realized that it didn’t match up,” Armstrong said. “I signed that I had a four, but I actually had a five on No. 18. I realized what I had to do, and it was devastating to me. I called the tournament director and disqualified myself, and I had to call Coach Holt and tell her what happened.”

“Ashley called me the next morning and said that she needed to talk to me,” Holt said. “She said that she didn’t win the tournament. She told me that she was about to call the AJGA to disqualify herself, and she wanted me to know. She apologized and said that she understood if it changed things [with her offer to Notre Dame]. That made me want her even more. She didn’t have to do that. Nobody would have known. It just solidified it for me to know that we were getting a kid that just has good qualities, ethics and morals.”

In her win at the Moor Course of Boyne Highlands, she did not make it any easier on herself. After the first round, Armstrong got food poisoning while eating at a local restaurant.

“I didn’t feel well all night and didn’t go to bed until 4:30 A.M. I woke up at 6:30 the next morning for my 8:24 tee time. I couldn’t eat anything, and I felt pretty bad, but I decided to play. I got to the course about 45 minutes before my tee time and only hit a few balls because I didn’t want to waste the energy that I had. I didn’t have any swing thoughts all day, I just was thinking about finishing each shot because I just wanted to get off of the course.”

She shot a 5-under-par 67 while feeling miserable during the second round, then went to the emergency room to get fluids.

On the final round, Armstrong shot an even-par 72 to finish the tournament at 8-under-par 208 and win her first AJGA tournament.

“When she disqualified herself for that tournament, it shot her rankings way down,” Mrs. Armstrong said. “She has learned so much since then. She has come in second a few times, third, fifth, sixth. But this is the first one that she has legitimately won, and it’s the last one that she is going to be in.”

Ashley is set to start at Notre Dame in the fall.

By: Andrew LeSaicherre, AJGA Staff

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