USGA team from Kentucky mixes youth with experience

On Thursday morning the 11th annual USGA Women’s State Team Championship tees off in Cape Girardeau, Mo., at the Dalhousie Golf Club.

A total of 49 U.S. state teams are competing in this year’s event and one of the more interesting teams grouped together belongs to Kentucky.

Of the three members, Martha Leach is the most notable, entering her 57th USGA championship event.

Alongside her is 16-year-old Ke’Asha Phillips, who is set to compete in her first USGA championship event.

Even though years of experience separate the two, both benefitted from each other during Wednesday’s practice round.

Maybe it’s Phillips’ Owensboro high school golf bag, or checking her cellphone occasionally in between holes, or her eagerness to learn that gives away the 16 year olds age.

But one thing that doesn’t is her golf game.

"I expect good things from her,” Leach said. “Junior golfers are so much oblivious to the pressure because they play so many more tournaments than a lot of us do or did."

But with 56 USGA championship appearances under Leach’s belt, Phillips keeps a close eye on the former U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion.

"I’m definitely like looking up to her and kind of watching what she is doing,” Phillips said. “Maybe I can take some of that stuff with me to other tournaments."

"I’ll give advice. I personally like to play practice rounds and meet new people, but I still want to compete so it’s harder," Leach said.

Following her practice round Phillips said that playing with experienced adults is actually more fun than playing with golfers her own age because everyone in the group is less tense.

Consequently, she hopes to use that to her advantage starting Thursday.

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