There was a time when Madi Woodward took 21 strokes.

That’s not her total putts for 18 holes or her accumulated score on the par 5s over the course of one round, but for a single hole.

It wasn’t all that long ago, either.

The Mountain Pointe junior was a freshman just learning the game and scoring in the 20s for one hole. It could have been a deal breaker for some. The game is frustrating enough when scoring double and triple bogeys, but scoring the equivalent of three touchdowns is something else.

Considering she, and teammate Lauren Blumears, will represent the Pride at the state tournament Oct. 26-27 at Aguila Golf Course, it is safe to say Woodward has been able to get control over her game since then.

It wasn’t easy, but made more plausible by the encouragement from her family.

“There was a lot of support from my parents,” she said. “My dad would say, ‘I see stuff in you.’ It meant a lot. My grandpa comes to all of my matches. I knew I wasn’t going to be good when I first started and getting a 21 wasn’t a good sign.”

It would have been easy to say that golf wasn’t for her, but it’s a game that tends to bring you back. As the saying goes, no matter how bad your score, there seems to always be that one shot that felt perfect when it left the club and actually went where it was intended.

“I started making some good shots here and there, but then I got my first birdie when I was a sophomore and it showed me how far I had come,” Woodward said. “Once you get one, you want to get more.”

Woodward has developed to the point where she is winning long drive awards at tournaments and shooting 81 in tournament play for 18 holes.

Blumears, a junior, has also developed quite a bit in the year and half she has been playing the game.

“The consistency of their game has been the biggest difference,” Pride coach Pete Manigold said. “They have not only improved their game, but they are smarter and have better course management.”

Blumears has had some great shots this year, chipping in from 80 yards out and getting a hole-in-one in a practice round, but more importantly she has the confidence knowing she can make just about any shot compared to when she first started.

“It’s been a steady progress,” Blumears said. “I just wanted to get better and understand the game better. I had a good summer and it led to a good year this year.”

The Mountain Pointe tandem will have company from Desert Vista’s Geraldine Torrellas, who was the Thunder’s lone qualifier on a very young team.

Torrellas averaged 41.6 per nine holes in her six state qualifying rounds. The Thunder’s senior captain looks to be in a position to blow away her state performance from a year ago when she shot 100-97—197 on a course in Tucson.

Woodward and Blumears shot 220 and 221, respectively, at the state tournament last year and now they could very well shoot 60 shots better over the two-day event.

They both have the goal of breaking 80 as their goal for the state tournament and with as much as they’ve improved it is hard to bet against them.

“That’s the goal,” Woodward said. “If I can do that it would be a huge sign of how far I’ve come.”

Mountain Pointe had several young players in the lineup this season to back their top golfers so the future looks healthy for the Pride.

“They’ve come in and kept practicing even though their season is over,” Manigold said. “If they put in the work we can be pretty good. Madi and Lauren are perfect examples of how much you can improve if you really put in the time and show the desire to get better.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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