By Meagan McGone
VIERA - Playing a key role in taking home this year's Junior Florida Cup was a great way to end Mary Dawson's high school golf career.
The win was a particularly impressive accomplishment for the 18-year-old Viera High School graduate, as it was her first year competing in the 7th Junior Florida Cup, held at The Old Collier Golf Club in Naples.
The Junior Florida Cup is an annual tournament that matches 16 players from the north part of Florida against 16 players from the south in a Ryder Cup format, which involves various match-style competitions. Each team consists of 10 boys and six girls, who are invited to compete, based on how they are ranked in the Florida Junior Tour.
"It was a very different style of competition than what I'm used to," she said. "I was on the North team, and we won 21 to 11."
Now, she will pack her belongings and head to Daytona State College on a full golf scholarship to begin her college career.
"I'm planning to go there to get my AA degree, and then I'm not sure what I want to do after," she said. "A lot of the girls I'll be going to college with will try to become pro, since the LPGA home course is where we'll be playing. For me, I want to get my education."
She said she hopes to earn another scholarship after her time at Daytona State College to fulfill her bachelor's degree, though she is not sure of what she would like to study just yet.
But it is likely that Mary will always be skilled at golf, a sport she has worked at for more than a decade.
"I started playing a really long time ago," she said. "My parents and brother played, and I'd go with them and take lessons. Dad definitely got us into golf."
Mary added that now, she is confident she could take on her father, Kevin, in a game of golf.
"I'm better than my dad," she said. "He used to beat me all the time, but I've gotten to the point where I can beat him."
She said the best pointer she could give to those looking to improve their game is to harness the power of the short game.
"Everyone wants to go out to the driving range with a driver and hit balls," she said. "But the game comes down to the short game and putting. Really focus on chipping and putting because that's what saves you a lot of strokes."