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Shin heads to nationals again

by: Eric Yaillen/OGA, West Linn’s Sharon Shin is having an excellent summer season. She qualified for the U.S. junior girls championship for a second time and will be in the World Juniors as well.

West Linn's Sharon Shin is not old enough to drive a car, but on a golf course she can out-drive just about anybody her age and even some who are older than her.

As an eighth-grader to be, Shin is one of the top female golfers in Oregon for her age group. In fact, two weeks ago, she qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur championship by beating out an impressive list of players who are older than her. Some of them were four years older.

It's something that Shin is getting used to. This will be her second trip to the national junior tournament, which will get underway July 22 in Charlotte, N.C. Plus, Shin will play in the junior world championships, which will be held in San Diego the week before.

It seems nothing is out of Shin's reach, maybe because she continually pushes herself to play better. So, when she finished second last week at the Peter Jacobsen Challenge after shooting a final-round 84, Shin felt like she let herself down.

'I could have played better,' she said. 'To shoot in the 80s is not good.'

Most amateur players, regardless of age, would be ecstatic to shoot a round in the 80s. But most of Shin's rounds this year have been in the 70s and her best score is a 69 that she fired at Arrowhead in Molalla a month ago.

'I was putting really well that day,' she said.

At 5-foot-6, Shin is able to drive the ball about 230 yards off of the tee. That's further than some men hit the ball, and it might not even be the best part of Shin's game.

Lately, her chipping has been sensational. At the junior qualifier, which was held at Tukwila, she chipped in twice. That sounds like something Tiger Woods might do.

'I was pretty shocked myself,' Shin said.

After earning her trip to Charlotte, Shin said she felt lucky that she qualified. From her perspective, she barely squeezed in, claiming the third of three qualifying spots. But her single-round score of 77 put her three strokes ahead of the next closest player.

Earning that spot, though, 'means a lot to me and my family,' she said.

Now, the goal is to advance out of stroke play at the national event and play at least one round in single-elimination match play.

'I think I can make the cut and play in match play,' she said.

That's something she was unable to do two years ago when she qualified for the national tournament. But the level of play at an event like that, even at that age group, is pretty intense.

'It's crazy,' Shin said. 'There's so many good players out there.'

Shin sees that competition as the kind of training she needs to help her realize her ultimate goal, which is to earn an athletic scholarship to Duke University.

'Right now, my goal is to play college golf there,' she said.

Before that goal is realized, though, Shin will take her turn as one of the stars of the West Linn High School team.

'I'm excited to be on that team,' she said.

Of course, she'll have to wait about a year and a half for that to happen.