Last Friday, Casey Durant ’14 flew straight from a Biology 560 test to compete in the 2013 Nature Valley First Tee Open, an official Champions Tour even in Pebble Beach, California that was internationally televised on the Golf Channel.
The three day pro-am tournament in California was conducted at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Course.
“It was really exciting and really cool. I learned a lot and got some tips from the pro I was playing with. It was just so cool to see these people that I had just seen and heard about on television and actually talk to them and participate with them in one-on-one events,” said Durant.
To prepare for this tournament, Durant participated in American Junior Golf Association events over the summer. She placed first in The Junior Classic and second in the Women’s Stroke Play Championship on Long Island.
At Pebble Beach, Durant partnered with Scott Hoch, a member of the PGA Tour, and two other amateur golfers. After shooting 11 under par the first two days, just three strokes off the lead, the group struggled on the final day, finishing 13th out of 81 competitors at even par.
Commenting on her experience playing with Scott Hoch, Durant said, “He was a really fun guy to play with. If you look at Scott Hoch’s history, he just says what he’s thinking. So this event is just a Champions Tour event, so the pros are playing to get points for the end of the year big tournament, but Hoch made sure to give me any help that I needed and advised me on a lot of issues.”
Durant was selected to attend this tournament by a national panel of judges who evaluated applicants based on playing ability, comprehension of life skills, character education and involvement with The First Tee, an organization that teaches young people life values through golf. Almost 150 applications were submitted for 81 available spots.
A golfer from a young age, Durant first began to play competitively at the urging of her father.
“When I was little, I would just follow my dad around, drive golf carts and play the bunkers. When I was about 11 I signed up for some local tournaments at the encouragement of my dad. When I was a little bit older than that, around seventh grade, I really started loving golf and I made my high school’s varsity golf team. By eighth grade, I was number one on that team.”
Durant’s golf success continued at Andover where she made the Varsity team her Junior Year.
Durant attributes her accomplishments largely to her perseverance, a trait which she developed from watching her role model and veteran LPGA golfer, Stacy Lewis.
“Golf is such a mental game, and it’s crucial that you avoid getting bogged down by any mistake you make. Rather, I’ve always tried to focus on getting right back up after I make a mistake and trying to think positively about the future,” said Durant.
While Durant will be ineligible to participate in The First Tee Open next year, she will use her memorable experiences from this year’s Open to work toward her goal of playing college golf.