Monday Jul 21 2008
Slight frame, major game
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
Forest Lake graduate Stockton qualifies for U.S. Women’s Amateur with a 71 at Peach Tree
Christina Stockton is a testament to the power of positive thinking. The 2006 Forest Lake Christian School graduate exudes confidence when talking about her golf game — but not in a brash or boastful way. As Stockton puts it, “It’s an aim-for-the-moon-and-hit-the-stars kind of thing.” Stockton’s confidence in her abilities helped her qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur last Monday. Stockton shot a 2-under-par 71 to place third at a qualifying tournament at Peach Tree Golf and Country Club in Marysville. Stockton was one of eight golfers from that tournament to qualify for the Women’s Amateur, which will take place Aug. 4-10 in Eugene, Ore. “I was playing against a really strong field,” said Stockton, who plays for the University of San Francisco (USF) on a full-ride scholarship. “I thought if I was over par, it wouldn’t happen. I thought being under par would secure me a spot. She was right. Now, Stockton has a chance to compete against the top female amateur players in the country. “Anyone has a chance to win,” she said. “This is the cream of the crop of girls and women in the United States. It will definitely be the most competitive event I’ve ever played in.” When she says “anyone,” Stockton especially means herself. “I’m going with the mindset that I plan on winning it,” she said. Stockton called qualifying for the Women’s Amateur “kind of a relief.” “I was very excited, but it was kind of like, ‘Finally,’” she said. “I’d spent a long time preparing for it.” Still, Stockton felt ready to make it happen going into the qualifying tournament, and that feeling stayed with her throughout the day. “I was really consistent hitting the fairways and the greens,” she said. “I stayed patient, and every now and then I had my putts drop. “The key was staying patient and having enough putts drop. That kept me right in there.” It didn’t hurt that Stockton had the utmost confidence in her short game. “Pitching, chipping, putting — I can get up and down from anywhere,” Stockton said. “Par is never impossible.” Stockton’s short-game coach is her mother, Jolene, who will serve as Stockton’s caddie at the U.S. Jolene said her daughter’s religious faith helps her not to put too much pressure on herself when it comes to making shots. “I think her Christian background keeps her strong,” said Jolene, who played professionally in Japan and is currently a teaching pro at DarkHorse Golf Club. “She realizes it’s not life-or-death, and that keeps her relaxed. “Her Christian background gives her a sense of peace no matter what she’s doing whether she’s studying for a final or playing in a tournament.” Stockton and her mother are not the only golfers in her family. Her father, Dan, played at UC Davis and Sacramento State, and her younger brother and sister compete as well. In high school, Stockton competed on Forest Lake Christian’s boys team as a freshman and a senior because the school does not have a girls team. In between, she took some time to focus on national junior tournaments. “I missed quite a bit of school to travel to the bigger tournaments,” Stockton said. “The focus was on national tournaments.” Still, it turned out to be a smart move. Stockton’s play at junior tournaments earned her attention from USF, which awarded her a scholarship before her junior year, according to FLC coach Joel Meisenheimer. At FLC, Stockton led the Falcons to a league title in 2006 and finished second individually at a Sac-Joaquin Section subsection tournament. However, Stockton was not allowed to move on to the section tournament because she could have competed individually in the girls tournament during the fall. “That was the first time that had ever happened, where they had a girl who could have moved on individually against the boys,” Meisenheimer said. “She couldn’t hit the ball as far as the guys, but she always hit it consistently straight down the middle,” he said. “She had to use longer irons to get it to the greens (from the boys’ tees), but she was very consistent.” Stockton has not won any college tournaments for USF, though the marketing major, who will be a junior this fall, is a two-time selection to the All-West Coast Conference first team. “I’ve come very close,” she said. “I have a lot of top-10s and some top-fives.” Stockton did win a tournament very recently, capturing the Sacramento City Women’s Championship for the third straight year on June 23. Playing on the LPGA Tour one day is “definitely a goal of mine,” Stockton said. “Her chances are very good because she’s so positive,” Jolene said. “Her getting her full education behind her means that no matter what she does, it’s not going to be life-or-death for her. She knows that she just has to do the best she can, and if golf is not in her identity, that’s fine. “She’ll be successful in the business world or whatever she does.” First, however, Stockton wants to be successful in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. “It’s a very exciting ride for me right now,” she said.