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Despite injury, Freeport golfer advances to PIAA West Regional

| Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 1:26 a.m.
Steven Dietz | for The Valley News Dispatch
Freeport's Audrey Clawson chips onto the 17th green from the sand during the WPIAL Class AA individual championship and PIAA qualifier Sept., 30 2013, at Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell.

Freeport sophomore Audrey Clawson doesn't know what carried her through one of the most trying rounds in her budding golf career.

You might say she couldn't put a finger on it.

The same was true in the literal sense when she tried to grip her driver normally and tee off Monday morning in the WPIAL Class AA individual championship.

Although she didn't win, Clawson, one of the top contenders at the start, turned out to be the story of the tournament as she played with a fractured finger on her left hand, an injury that occurred Sunday evening at a neighbor's house.

Undeterred and calmly tolerant of the pain, she rallied to shoot 83 to finish seventh and advance to the next round of the postseason. All that after opening with a 10 on her starting hole at Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell.

Clawson injured the finger while attempting to hit a beach ball back to a friend. As she attempted to bump the ball into the air, she missed and hit her opposite hand, pushing the finger downward.

“I can't believe I did that to myself,” she said.

Playing with a splint that stuck out through her ripped glove, Clawson was 6-over on her starting hole, the par-4 10th. Frustrated and unable to fully feel the club in her hands, she proceded to rip off the splint and play the remaining 17 holes in 5-over, including two birdies.

She shot 45-38.

“I couldn't get a full swing,” said Clawson, the Section 1-AA champion. “I was hitting everything to the right. I just had to keep playing so I could get done and rest.”

The top seven finishers advanced to the PIAA West Regional tournament Oct. 16 at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge Resort.

Champion Macky Fouse, who shot 2-over 75, played in the final group with Clawson.

“I have no idea how she got it back after that first hole,” Fouse said. “It was something to watch.”

Clawson, who spent nearly four hours at Children's Hospital Sunday night and will visit an orthopedic surgeon this week, said she had no intentions of withdrawing from the tournament.

“I wasn't going to let something stupid like that keep me out,” said Clawson, the top scorer on Freeport's boys team. “After (the first hole) I just said to myself I know I can get through this. I love the (front) nine here and couldn't wait to play those holes.”

Clawson shot 3-under 33 earlier this season at Hill Crest during a match.

Freeport hopes to have its top scorer back for the start of the WPIAL playoffs next week.

“It's pretty impressive what she was able to do out there,” Freeport coach Joe Sprumont said. “I didn't know she was hurt until I got to the course and saw her kind of messing with (the finger). I figured it would be tough for her, but I'm not surprised she played through it. She is always so focused and doesn't let things stand in her way.”

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