CLEVELAND - When you're 10, what you read generally doesn't include putting greens. Unless you're 10 and one of the top amateur golfers in the country.
Valrico, Florida's Latanna Stone is out to prove that, after qualifying for the U.S. Women's Amateur, the most prestigious women's amateur golf tournament in the country.
Stone qualified by shooting a two-under 70 in a regional qualifier. Her handicap is a plus-one and she drives the ball 225 yards. And you'd be wrong if you thought she played from the red tees.
The USWA is Aug. 6-12 in Cleveland, where Latanna will compete with the best female amateur golfers in the country. She's the youngest to ever qualify for the tournament, though it really wasn't a fluke. Stone's been swinging a club since she was 2 years old, and she's won more than 100 junior tournaments. At 5'4", she also doesn't look like she's 10 -- maybe more like 12 or 13.
There are plenty of cautionary tales of young athletes pushed too hard too fast, but her parents seem to go with the flow, and don't make her do anything she doesn't want to. Her dad, Mike, said if his daughter wanted to quit tomorrow, they'd be OK with that. But she doesn't.
For now, it's a rare opportunity for the golf world to see a young athlete who's not even in her teens competing at a tremendously high level, with nowhere to go but up. And for that young athlete to see what she's up against as she pursues a career in professional golf.
When you're 10, what you plan generally doesn't include your entire future. Unless you're 10, and you consistently shoot under par.
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