Golf: Southridge's Warner eyes run at districts

May 18, 2014 

Mid-Columbia Golf Tournament

Southridge's Catherine Warner chips onto the green on No. 4 during the Mid-Columbia Conference golf tournament at Canyon Lakes Golf Course on Wednesday afternoon.

MATT GADE — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

About the only thing Southridge’s Catherine Warner has struggled with in relation to golf this season has been juggling the recruiting process with a slew of coaches.

The senior from Kennewick has dominated the Mid-Columbia Conference throughout the spring, winning the individual regular-season title with an average score of 78.8.

She will headline a crowded field at the district tournament today and Tuesday. The first round will be at Tri-City Country Club today, while the second round Tuesday will be at Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland.

Warner figures to earn a spot in next week’s Class 3A state tournament, where she finished eighth as a junior.

She also will decide today which college she will attend, having narrowed a list of 30 down to two — Bucknell and Duke. As Southridge’s valedictorian and a dominant golfer, she has had the pick of the litter when it comes to schools.

“I applied to 30 and kept in touch with up to 20 golf coaches at once,” Warner said. “That was really difficult. I would not recommend applying to that many schools.”

Warner won three of the first five MCC pod matches, allowing her to overcome a poor performance in last week’s final meet of the regular season, when she shot an 84 and finished sixth at Horn Rapids.

The league title was not something she was banking on to start the season.

“It started coming together after four or five tournaments,” she said. “I was getting first place a lot and even if I got worse than I did (last week), I could still get first place.”

While Warner had a solid junior season, it was nothing on par with this year.

“I started putting in a ton of effort, especially over the last summer,” she said. “I’m almost always in the 70s now; before I was in the 80s and even the 90s.”

Warner credits her improvement to swing coach Jeff Bender, the PGA professional at Canyon Lakes and Golf Universe.

The pair have been working together for three years, and Warner has made huge improvements in that time.

“She devours the game,” Bender said. “She has a voracious appetite for golf and competition. She did some things that normally take nine or 10 years to do. Very impressive.”

She started playing tournaments all over the country to improve her skills in a tournament setting, which definitely paid off this spring.

“She had a great season,” Southridge coach Spencer Reiboldt said. “She’s been our No. 1 since her sophomore year. She has worked really hard on her game.”

Reiboldt, who also is an assistant football coach for the Suns, has been especially impressed with how dedicated Warner is at getting better.

“Her work ethic and competitive drive — she is probably one of the most focused and driven of any kid I’ve ever seen,” he said. “She is super intelligent and strives to get good grades. Just an unbelievable student-athlete.”

Warner started playing at age 8 with her dad, Mike, but didn’t get serious until her sophomore year of high school. She played tennis as a freshman, before the golf coach convinced her to come out.

Over the summer she played 36 holes a week, mainly at Meadow Springs Country Club, and would work at the range for multiple hours each day.

The hard work has already paid off in the regular season, and now she hopes it translates to regional and state titles.

w Craig Craker: 582-1509; ccraker@tricityherald.com

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