It’s hard to imagine Katie Gray not feeling confident in her golf game. The Central Hardin junior is no stranger to being near the top of a tournament leaderboard and has been to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Girls’ Golf State Championship the last three years.
But, that’s where she found herself not too long ago this season. With the 5th Region Tournament now just days away, Gray has started to regain some of the momentum she felt she had lost.
“I am a little nervous. We have some really good girls in our region and I’ve been struggling lately, but I’m starting to get it back together,” Gray said. “There was a rough patch in there for a little while, but it’s coming together again, so I’m feeling more confident.”
It has not been all bad for Gray this season by any means. She has won a Hardin County Cup individual title and a Charger Cup championship with her team and as an individual as well.
Still, there were some struggles for a little while that she has been working to correct.
“I couldn’t hit a green. My irons were very inconsistent and then I started hitting my clubs further and I just didn’t know how far I hit them, so it was kind of a guessing game for a little while where I was trying to figure it out,” she said. “I think now that I’ve kind of figured it out, that’s going a lot better. I’m hitting them very solid.”
Gray has had some work to do on her iron play as of late, but one area she is fully confident in is her distance off the tee. She categorized where she is at with her driver as one of the strongest parts of her game these days.
With her confidence in her irons returning, Gray said her skill-set is much more well-rounded ahead of the postseason.
“It’s become very consistent and my misses are not very bad misses,” she said. “I would also say my iron game is now very strong as well.”
Part of the reason Gray has not been as satisfied with what she has done over the course of the season stems from the higher expectations that she set for herself.
Overcoming these hiccups along the way has been a learning process, but Gray attributed her ability to do so and still finish the regular season with a few tournament wins to her growing understanding of the game.
“My bad rounds this year are rounds that I would’ve been enjoying or okay with last year,” she said. “I think I’ve just grown a lot with my knowledge.”
If there was ever a time to put it all back together it’s now.
Gray enters the regional off a second-place finish last year with a round of 77. This was her highest region finish to date and trailed only Bullitt East’s Macie Brown with a 73.
It was good enough to get back to Bowling Green Country Club, but coming so close to a region title and coming up empty still stung a little bit.
“There were a couple of girls that definitely thought they would beat me. I just had a really good round and they didn’t do as well as they usually do, so it’s just circumstance and who can get it together on the right day at the right time,” Gray said. “It definitely hurt, but I was also very excited because that was my best round yet.”
With her game turning a corner at the right time and momentum on her side, Gray is feeling confident about her chances for another high finish at region this time around.
She knows it will be a competitive field, but believes her game is back in the right spot to help her return to Bowling Green and improve on her 67th=place state championship finish from last year as well.
“I just really want to be in that mix of the top couple (at region),” she said. “(At State) in past years, I’ve just been thankful to make it to the second day and just go have fun. This year, I’m really hoping to make it to the second day and actually try to place high.”
The 5th Region Tournament will be held at Oxmoor Country Club in Louisville on Monday.