Johnson sets eyes on the high school season

By: LANCE REED

Sports Editor

It’s always nice to see good things happen to kids who work really hard at what they want. Recently, a youngster from Pine Prairie did just that.

She excels at golf and loves to play. All of her hard work paid off when she took to the road and competed against some of the best young golfers in the world.

Nine-year-old Julia Johnson, daughter of Chuck and Carolyn Johnson of Pine Prairie, won the nine-year-old National Golfing Championship last weekend in Jekyll Island, Georgia. This tournament draws the best young golfers from all age groups around the country annually. After winning the Louisiana State nine year-old championship, Julia qualified to attend this prestigious event. The nine-year-old girls played a very demanding course in strenuous conditions, but Julia, as a favorite, did not disappoint anyone who was there to watch her do her stuff.

With the wind blowing at 20 m.p.h. and the temperature a wet 37 degrees, Julia shot a 38 (+2) in round one. After racking up one birdie, one bogey, and one double bogey, Julia found herself tied for second place, two shots behind world-famous Rena Jung. Although disappointed in her round, she was confident she could win the tournament. In round two, Julia found herself too close to her nearest competitor, after opening the round with four pars. She traveled to the eighth hole with an even par, having a two-shot lead on Jung.

After hitting an amazing 195-yard drive on hole eight, Julia found herself a mere 40 yards from the green. Not much later, Rena Jung put a driver and a hybrid in par four, paring the hole. Next, Julia hit a sand wedge onto the green, leaving a 15-foot slick putt down to the hole. After leaving her first putt short, Julia took the lead away on the hole after proceeding with a four putt.

Heading on to the eighth tee, Julia was confident, as she was up by two with two holes to play, then finished the hole, tying herself for tournament lead. After calming advice from her father and caddie, telling her to relax and focus on the next shot, Julia stepped up to the box, slamming a 204-yard drive, which put the ball out of bounds between the bunkers and water. Out-driving Jung by 60 yards, Julia hit a sand wedge to six feet of the hole, taking the tournament championship. Fighting back to win after losing the lead initially had Julia’s parents extremely proud of her. This tournament win truly showed what Julia Johnson is made of.

The week included Julia hitting 13 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation, and had an outstanding average drive of 186 yards off the tee. Her greatest advantage over other competitors is her outstanding length off of the tee. She consistently out-shot her opponents by 30 or 60 yards and had short irons into the difficult greens. In the last three months, she has won an amazing seven of eight US Kid’s state tournaments, and now adds the Jekyll Cup to her list of achievements.

For the next two months, Julia will be setting her sights on high-school-level golf. As a third grader, it is an astounding feat to compete on this level. Last year, she finished 11th in classes 1A and B, 2A, and 3A. Setting her sights high, her goal this year is to finish in the top three. Just like last year, Julia’s summer will be one filled with golf, as she will be competing in 15 local and national tournaments. Her agenda will include such prestigious events as the Pepsi Championship, Calloway World Championship, Louisiana Junior Amateur Championship, and the US Kids World Championship.

Julia is working towards her goal by putting in a hard five-days-a-week with aspirations to one day play on the LPGA tour. Helping Julia towards her goal is pro Craig Campo of Oak Wing in Alexandria, where she takes lessons three-to-five hours per week. Julia is an outstanding young golfer, crediting her talent to her parents, hard work, and most of all God.

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