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Golf Plus: Meet the top two in prep girls ranks

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 - 4:12 pm

Folsom's Paige Lee and Rocklin's Kelsey Ulep have been forces on the local golf scene since they were knee-high to a ball washer.

Lee took her first hack when she was 4 under the watchful eye of her grandfather, who remains her coach. She broke 80 when she was 13. Ulep took up golf at 7 after quitting softball when she was hit in the face with a pitch. A natural, she won her first junior tournament two months later.

Their strong play has continued into high school. Lee, 17, a senior at Granite Bay, and Ulep, 16, a junior at Whitney, shot a 74 and a 72, respectively, Monday at the Reserve at Spanos Park to qualify for next week's Northern California championship, where Lee will seek her third trip to the state tournament and Ulep her second.

Lee is among the area's better putters; Ulep is among the area's longest hitters. Both will play golf in college, Lee choosing UC Davis after receiving interest from 75 schools and Ulep about to start the recruiting process. Both hope to play professionally. Both couldn't be more respectful.

One or the other has won pretty much everything there is to win locally. Get to know the consensus best high school girls players in the Sacramento area.

KELSEY ULEP

Age: 16

Class: Junior

High school: Whitney

The scouting report suggests that you love to rip driver and play aggressively, but that your game lacks some refinement. Agree or disagree?

Agree. The strongest part of my game is ball striking. My short game is either really good or really bad. I need to become more consistent with it.

When did you know that golf was for you?

When I was 7. I was playing softball and I was really good at hitting the ball. One game, a girl accidentally hit me in the eye with a pitch. It was traumatic. I still can't play baseball to this day. I started playing golf and won my first tournament two months later.

How many hours a week do you play/think/train golf?

25. I'm at the course every day after school for three or four hours, and then my dad has me do about 30 minutes of drills at home each night.

What's your greatest talent/interest that doesn't involve hitting a golf ball?

I'm really good shooting a basketball. I played in middle school, but my dad doesn't want me getting hurt.

After 18 holes together, what do your playing partners say about you?

That I hit it a long way and that I'm fun to play with. I like to make conversation and new friendships. I'm not a very shy person.

What's your college situation?

I'm talking to a few colleges, but I haven't taken any visits yet. I'm planning to do that this winter. I want to stay close to home, preferably on the West Coast. I want a coach who cares about me and my education and not just about my golf.

Do you aspire to be a pro golfer?

I really want to go pro, but things can change. If golf doesn't work out, I want to be a lawyer.

How does your Hawaiian heritage influence your golf?

I was raised to think of everyone as family. That's why I try to be friendly with everyone that I play with.

You're tied for the lead with Paige playing the last hole. Who wins?

It's really back and forth with us. Whoever is having the better day that day.

PAIGE LEE

Age: 17

Class: Senior

High school: Granite Bay

The scouting report suggests that you are a precision player who's willing to sacrifice distance for accuracy and rely on your short game. Agree or disagree?

Agree. I've never been a long-ball hitter. To compensate, I've focused on my aiming and my accuracy.

When did you know that golf was for you?

Around 13, or two years after I started playing competitively.

How many hours a week do you play/think/train golf?

25. I'm at the course every day after school for 2 1/2 or three hours, and on weekend days about five hours.

What's your greatest talent/interest that doesn't involve hitting a golf ball?

I'm in love with music. When I was in grade school, I took up the flute. I was second seat in middle school. I used to play the piano. I love to sing. I randomly sing in the car and shower – wherever.

After 18 holes together, what do your playing partners say about you?

That it was nice playing with you. I usually play with a lot of new people and I try to make new friends. When I hit my golf ball, I get serious. After that, I can talk up a storm.

What's your college situation?

I've verbally committed to UC Davis. It's close to home and great academically, and I love the coach. I had about 75 letters.

Do you aspire to be a pro golfer?

Somewhere down the road. I definitely want to finish and graduate college before I try.

How does your Korean heritage influence your golf?

Family-wise, we're pretty close. They have a lot of drive for me to stay on topic and push me toward my goals.

You're tied for the lead with Kelsey playing the last hole. Who wins?

Me. I'm older and more experienced (laughs). We have some great games, though.

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Read more articles by Steve Pajak



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