Great op­por­tu­nity

Beever takes her shot at Peb­ble Beach

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Gra­ham Thomas Staff Writer gth­omas@nwadg.com ■

Brink­ley Beever be­lieves she’s im­proved tremen­dously on the golf course in her four years on the Siloam Springs golf team.

She also knows there’s still lots of room for im­prove­ment.

Beever, a se­nior all-state golfer for the Lady Pan­thers, has watched her nine-hole av­er­age drop more than 10 strokes since her fresh­man year in 2014, when she was named the North­west Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette’s New­comer of the Year.

Beever av­er­aged 51.6 strokes per nine-hole match that year, but showed flashes of bril­liance and tons of po­ten­tial with her game de­spite hav­ing played for less than a year.

“I had just started,” Beever said. “So I was still try­ing to fig­ure out my swing.”

Each year since then she’s low­ered that av­er­age — a 46.3 mark as a sopho­more, 42.5 as a ju­nior and now 41.08 her se­nior year.

Beever has dipped her scores into the up­per 30s on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, and last year she fin­ished third at the Class 6A state girls tour­na­ment and qual­i­fied for the state over­all tour­na­ment in Lit­tle Rock. She’s the third Lady Pan­ther to qual­ify for the over­all, join­ing Emery Rakestraw (2011) and Shelby Craw­ley (2013).

“I’ve taken les­sons and kind of got­ten it fig­ured out,” she said. “I’ve changed on my course man­age­ment so much and that’s why my scores have dropped. So I’m a com­pletely dif­fer­ent golfer. I’m to­tally dif­fer­ent.”

With that in mind though, Beever said her game is ever evolv­ing and she is con­stantly work­ing for ways to im­prove, which is why she ex­pects to be a “com­pletely dif­fer­ent golfer” down the road as well.

“Golf is dif­fer­ent be­cause you’re al­ways work­ing on some­thing, al­ways changing some­thing in your swing,” she said. “You’re al­ways try­ing to get bet­ter, so I don’t think you ever re­ally stay the same. So I’m prob­a­bly look­ing to change sev­eral things, get more con­sis­tent, be smarter, hit it farther and do as good as I can.”

Beever has a cou­ple of op­por­tu­ni­ties on the hori­zon to cap off her se­nior golf sea­son.

Next week Beever will fly out to Peb­ble Beach, Calif., to par­tic­i­pate in the 2017 PURE In­sur­ance Cham­pi­onship, which will be held Sept. 19-24 at Peb­ble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course and will be tele­vised by the Golf Chan­nel.

Beever was one of 33 girls and 81 ju­nior golfers to­tal se­lected to play in the event by a na­tional panel of judges based on play­ing abil­ity and com­pre­hen­sion of the life skills and core val­ues learned through in­volve­ment with The First Tee, ac­cord­ing to the tour­na­ment’s web site. The ju­nior golfers will be teamed with 81 PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons and 162 ama­teurs to com­pete for the cham­pi­onship.

Beever and Green­wood’s Evan Grif­fith were the only two play­ers se­lected from Arkansas, ac­cord­ing to the tour­na­ment’s web­site.

“Ever since I got in­volved

with The First Tee (of North­west Arkansas), I’ve heard about it,” Beever said. “It’s al­ways been my top goal. For years I’ve been work­ing to­ward it. To fi­nally get cho­sen to do it is so ex­cit­ing.”

Beever has been in­volved with The First Tee of North­west Arkansas ever since she be­gan play­ing golf be­fore her fresh­man year. It’s helped her land sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties in the game, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sive time at the LPGA’s NW Arkansas Cham­pi­onship held each year at Pin­na­cle Coun­try Club in Rogers.

Beever has got­ten to caddy the last two years for for­mer Arkansas stand­out and cur­rent LPGA player Stacy Lewis along with get­ting to meet sev­eral other pro­fes­sional golfers.

“The first year (Lewis) let me hit off of two of the par 3s, and I hit the green both times, so that was cool,” Beever said. “The sec­ond year she let me putt and I drained two 30-foot­ers for their group, and my drive was like straight down the mid­dle. It was al­most the long drive. Those were def­i­nitely high­lights.”

Beever’s stay out in Cal­i­for­nia might get cut short a lit­tle pre­ma­turely though. She’ll need to get back by Sept. 25 for the start of the Class 6A State Girls Golf Tour­na­ment at Big Creek Golf and Coun­try Club in Moun­tain Home.

The first day of the state tour­na­ment is also the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship, and Siloam Springs will look to de­fend its 2016 6A-West Con­fer­ence ti­tle.

The Lady Pan­thers wound up fin­ish­ing fourth over­all at the state tour­na­ment in 2016, and with Beever at the top of the ro­ta­tion they feel like they have a good chance to con­tend for the pro­gram’s first state cham­pi­onship.

“Green­wood is in our divi­sion,” Beever said. “We beat them last year for con­fer­ence. They’re num­ber one in our divi­sion right now, and we’ve al­ready beat them in one of the matches. So we know we can do it. If we can just play well and do good — we don’t even have to do our best — but just do well and I think we have a re­ally good chance at win­ning.”

Siloam Springs golf coach Michael Robert­son said Beever is a strong leader for the Lady Pan­thers on and off the golf course.

“What I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate about Brink­ley is she’s very team driven,” Robert­son said. “She has in­di­vid­ual ac­com­plish­ments she wants to achieve and in­di­vid­ual goals, but she re­ally wanted to make each other bet­ter. She’s a great prac­tice player, leads by ex­am­ple. She’s al­ways here. She’s a great stu­dent in the school, and just does ev­ery­thing she can to make her team­mates bet­ter on the course.”

Gra­ham Thomas/Her­ald-Leader

Siloam Springs se­nior Brink­ley Beever is a four-year var­sity golfer for the Lady Pan­thers. Beever will par­tic­i­pate next week in the PURE In­sur­ance Cham­pi­onship in Peb­ble Beach, Calif., be­fore re­turn­ing to lead the Lady Pan­thers in the Class 6A state girls golf tour­na­ment.

Spencer Tirey/NWA Demo­crat-Gazette

Siloam Springs High School golfer Brink­ley Beever chips onto the green on hole 1 at Spring­dale Coun­try Club dur­ing the Spring­dale Har-Ber Wild­cat In­vi­ta­tional on Aug. 3.

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