The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

August 3, 2013

Former Carl Junction standout Bird finds success in team play

Natalie Bird added to her list of golf accomplishments this past week at Twin Hills Golf and Country Club.

Bird, who played at Carl Junction High School and Missouri Western, tasted success for the first time in the Fore State Championship, a Ryder Cup-style competition involving 10-player teams from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Bird partnered with Alexa Osbourne on Thursday to win in both better-ball and alternate shot matches. Then on Friday, Bird halved her singles match against Amanda Booth from Kansas.

Bird’s 2.5 points for the competition ranked second on the Missouri team. Only Catherine Dolan, a two-time Missouri Amateur champion, won all three of her matches.

“Those two days were really hectic,” Bird said. “It was a lot of golf in a short period of time. Since graduating from Missouri Western, I have not played that much. It definitely was a great experience.”

Bird played in the Fore State Championship the previous year for the first time but did not win a match.

“Honestly I struggle a lot trying to get in the right mentality for match play,” Bird said. “I like stroke play better, playing against yourself as opposed to match play where you are playing another person.

“Personally I like playing golf in my own little world. In match play you have to pay attention to what everyone else is doing. I like to focus on what I’m doing. That’s why I like stroke play better.”

Bird played a seesaw singles match against Booth, a former player and 2006 graduate of Nebraska-Omaha.

“I shot 73 (1-over-par) and tied my match,” Bird said. “Usually you shoot around par, you are going to win your match. It was back and forth, a great match. It was great to play against her, and she was a great person.”

Bird finished in 11th place in the Missouri Amateur earlier this summer at the Old Kinderhook course in Camdenton.

“The Missouri Women’s Golf Association always puts on a great tournament with really good events,” Bird said. “Old Kinderhook was a great host, from the course to the lodging. They did a great job.

“I struggled a little bit, especially the first day. I had taken a break from competitive golf after graduating in May. It took me a little while to get back in competition mode, but by the third day I felt like I was ready to compete again and liking golf again.

“I learned a lot from playing in it. I look forward to that event every year.”

Fore State Notes

• Kansas, after earning five points in team play, dominated the singles action and won the team title with 12.5 points. Missouri, the first-day leader with 7.5 points, tied for second with Oklahoma at 10 points, and Arkansas had 7.5 points.

• Dolan, who earned all-Missouri Valley Conference honors all four years at Missouri State, has indicated she will attempt to turn pro. In the last three state amateurs, she won in 2011, lost in a playoff in 2012 and won this year.

• The Fore State Championship was first played in 1995 at Bella Vista, Ark. Oklahoma has the most team titles with eight, two more than Missouri. Arkansas has three titles and Kansas two.

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