Curtice’s Donnelly making waves in prep golf world

J. Patrick Eaken

        As a freshman at the Division I state tournament, Curtice resident and St. Ursula golfer Payton Donnell was part of an Arrows’ team that finished 10th out of 12 teams at the state meet.
        Donnelly shot 91-88—179 to finish 62nd individually out of 72 golfers and her team shot 666. New Albany was the champion, scoring 571.
        Donnelly was hoping to make it to the state meet this year, but fell short, even though she has upped her game.
        As a sophomore, Donnelly was named Three Rivers Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year after shooting a 76 at the league meet and her team shot a 331 to win a league tournament championship over second place Notre Dame (350). Clay was fourth, scoring 433.
       In the Division I district meet at Heatherdowns Country Club in South Toledo, Donnelly finished second after turning in a score of 42-39— 81 and advance to the district meet. She was two strokes behind Perrysburg freshman Sydney Deal, who shot 39-40—79. Donnelly’s team shot 348, four strokes behind Notre Dame (344), but both teams advanced.
       St. Ursula coach Jim McGowan says the sky is the limit for Donnelly, the daughter of St. Ursula Athletic Director Mike Donnelly, a former Clay athletic director and football coach.
        “I think she can go anywhere she wants. She has the power and the distance to play at a very high level and I just think it’s just a matter of getting more rounds in and getting more comfortable with decisions she makes on the golf course. She’ll just keep on elevating,” McGowan said.
        “She’s been playing for quite a long time. She’s been serious about it since probably fifth or sixth grade. On top of that, she’s tall and very strong and athletic. She’s put in the time and commitment and is naturally gifted with being powerful. The two combine well.”
        Donnelly may have started taking it seriously in grade school, but she picked up at the game at an even younger age, thanks to her father.
        “I started golfing when I was 5-years-old. My dad put me in the First Tee program at Oak Harbor Golf Club, and I went back each summer looking forward to making new friends and improving my golf game,” Donnelly said.
        “At around 10, I started taking it a little more seriously. I went to a swing coach and played in some tournaments. Then just a couple years later I'm dragging my dad out to the course to play with me every single day. It didn't matter if it was raining or even snowing, you could always find me out on the course,” Payton continued.
        “Now, in what's already my second high school season, I've been focusing a little more on the mental side of the game, and I'm definitely seeing some improvement being made.”
        For Donnelly and her team to advance to state at Ohio State University’s Gray Course for the state meet, they had to perform well at the district meet, held at Bowling Green’s Stone Ridge Golf Course on Tuesday. Only the top two teams and individuals advanced, which made it even tougher.
        Donnelly performed well, but other golfers performed even better. She said her goal this year was to “hopefully bring back some memories from Columbus,” but that will have to wait for next year.
        The team finished in third at 349 behind champion Ashland (332) and Notre Dame (342) and didn’t advance, and Donnelly shot 41-38—79, but that only got her fifth place. Deal shot 35-37—72, Napoleon senior Riley Kleck shot 36-39—75, Lexington senior Amanda Ruminski shot 34-41—75 and Ashland junior Klaira Paramore shot 37-39—76. Deal and Ruminski advanced as individuals.


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