FREEPORT — Something clicked inside the mind of Rochelle sophomore golfer Megan Thiravong during the final nine holes of the IHSA Class 1A Aquin Sectional at Park Hills Golf Course on Monday.
Thiravong started slow with 45 over the front nine holes, but the two-time sectional qualifier flipped the switch and caught fire on the back nine, carding 36 to finish her round with 81. Thiravong’s score was good enough for fourth place in the competition, and her efforts were also enough to advance her to the IHSA State Championships for the second year in a row.
“I want to thank all of my supporters who have wished me luck, and I want to thank my parents for supporting me and making sure I have everything I need,” Thiravong said. “Coach [Glen] Mehrings always takes time out of his day to make sure my swing is alright and that I’m hitting the ball well. He’s always helping me during tournaments.”
Thiravong entered Monday’s sectional competition having placed third in regional play at Boone Creek Golf Course in Bull Valley last week. Heavy rain and high winds over the weekend left plenty of water for players to navigate on Monday, but the weather eventually cleared for mostly sunny skies.
“It was definitely very challenging because there was a lot of water on the course,” Thiravong said. “The greens were very fast and hilly so they were difficult to read. After the front nine… I just had to drive to finish well and coach Mehrings helped me read the greens and dictate some of my shots.”
Thiravong’s strong finish was partly due to her excellent putting down the stretch. The sophomore only needed 14 putts over the final nine holes, and the (now) two-time state qualifier will look to carry her momentum from Monday’s finish over to the Class 1A State Championship, which will begin at Decatur’s Red Tail Run Golf Course on Friday, Oct. 12. Thiravong said her goal is to finish in the top 10 of the individual standings.
“Having six up-and-downs on the back nine was definitely my strong suit,” Thiravong said. “Being at the state tournament last year will give me the experience I need, and my knowledge of the course will help me dictate where I should hit the ball. I also know how the program runs this year so I can be on time and on top of my schedule.”