Avon Lake senior Paighton Masterson accomplished almost everything possible during her high school career.
She set school records, won multiple Southwestern Conference titles, earned medalist honors at sectionals and advanced to districts four years in a row.
There was just one thing left for the University of Cincinnati commit to do, qualify for the state tournament.
Masterson finally checked that box last week after shooting a 3-over-par 75 at the Division I district tournament at the Legends of Massillon to earn her ticket to Columbus.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I’ve worked so hard, it really feels incredible.”
As a junior, Masterson shot 76 at the district tournament and came up two strokes shy of being in a playoff for the final qualifying position for state, so when she walked off the course this year with a 75 she wasn’t sure if her score would be good enough.
“I was worried, I’m not going to lie. I got off the 18th green and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this (score) isn’t going to get out,’” Masterson said. “I stood by the 18th green and watched the other groups finish up and my friends from other schools started running over and telling me I made it. That was really exciting.”
Masterson will tee off in the Division I state tournament on the Ohio State University’s Gray Course this morning at 10:40.
“Paighton has been working for this since her freshman year. It’s a little bittersweet that it took her until the end of her career, but she is so deserving of this,” Avon Lake coach Krystine Frisch said. “Not only is she a hard worker, she is a great leader and our captain. I’m going to miss her next year.”
Masterson was part of an Avon Lake team that won three SWC championships, broke the 18-hole school record on multiple occasions and went 57-1 in dual meets.
However, today Masterson will be going solo because the Shoregals finished seventh at districts, coming seven strokes shy of going to Columbus as a team.
“It kinda stinks the whole team isn’t coming,” Masterson said. “But I know they are supporting me, some of them are even coming down to watch.”
Masterson has only played the Scarlet Course once prior to this week — she was also allowed to play a practice round before the tournament — but she proved that she can quickly master unfamiliar courses earlier in the season when she shot a round of 65 that included two eagles at Medina Country Club during the Medina Invitational.
“You can’t think about it being the state tournament. I know I’m going to have to breathe, try to relax and just think of it as another invitational,” Masterson said. “Every round I play, I always take it hole by hole, you can’t lose focus on one shot. Once you lose focus on one shot, it’s a snowball effect and bad stuff can happen from there.”
Like any great golfer, Masterson counts on being consistent from shot to shot and round to round.
How consistent has she been?
Over the course of the 2018 season, she played eight dual meets and three tournaments, including sectionals, on the Shoregals home course, The Legacy Course at Sweetbriar.
In those nine-hole dual meets, Masterson shot 35 once, 36 twice and 37 on five occasions. In two of the tournaments, she shot a 76, the only deviation being the SWC tournament in which she shot a 71 to win medalist honors.
“Paighton has been really focused this year. She played a great round at districts,” Frisch said. “I hope she can take that confidence down to state and play like she knows how to play.”
Masterson is looking to become Avon Lake’s second state champion, joining Niki Schroeder, who won in 2014.
It’s been an exciting four-year journey for Masterson and she’s excited she gets to end it on the biggest stage.
“I would have loved to have made it down to state all four years,” Masterson said. “But for it come now and to end with this is just incredible.”
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