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Freeport's Clawson takes aim at WPIAL golf title

| Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 10:31 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Freeport's Audrey Clawson completes her swing while competing Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, at Pittsburgh National Golf Club in West Deer.

When she's not at the golf course playing in matches or tournaments, Audrey Clawson can be found in a field behind her house hitting short pitches and chip shots.

“I like to chip balls with my 54-degree wedge into a bucket,” said Clawson, a sophomore at Freeport.

So call winning a WPIAL championship an item on Clawson's bucket list.

She will compete in the Class AA tournament Monday at Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell, where she shot a 2-under-par 33 during a match earlier this season.

If she can score better than 17 others, she'll become her school's first golf champion.

Hill Crest seems like the perfect venue for a breakthrough.

“When I play a course, I either love it or hate it,” said Clawson, who plays on the Freeport boys team. “Hill Crest I loved from the beginning when I played a practice round there. I like the layout and the greens rolled perfect for me.”

Clawson is the only Alle-Kiski area player in the championship. She took fourth last season when she shot 87 at 3 Lakes Golf Course.

Routinely Freeport's top scorer this season, Clawson has to be considered one of the favorites. Defending champion Gillian Alexander, a junior from Jefferson-Morgan, is in the field, along with Central Valley senior Macky Fouse, a Seton Hall recruit.

Chipping and putting could be what guides Clawson to success.

“This year, her short game has become much more efficient,” Freeport coach Joe Sprumont said. “She has been able to knock a couple shots off her average probably just around and on the greens.

“Her mental approach and ability to stay in the moment and focus on the next shot, under any circumstance, is as good as any golfer of any age that I've ever been around.”

Clawson shot 6-over 80 to win the Section 1-AA qualifying tournament at Latrobe Elks. Her round started rocky as she was 6-over after four holes, but she steadied things with five birdies down the stretch.

“I don't want to get too confident because it's golf and I know anything can happen,” Clawson said. “I want to tune up my putting and make sure I am hitting greens in regulation. I need to focus on the score I know I can shoot.”

Clawson also will be seeking a return trip to the regional round of the postseason.

The top eight finishers in Class AA and top seven from Class AAA advance to the PIAA West Regional Tournament on Oct. 15 at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge Resort.

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