Mason girls win on the links

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2002

Making her way up the last few holes of the Portsmouth City Junior Championship at Portsmouth City Park last Wednesday, Shanice Mason couldn’t help but feel a little nervous. On Tuesday, the Northern Shores Elementary School student, the tournament’s youngest competitor at eight, had shot a 59 to end the day in second place.

&uot;I knew I hadn’t played as well as I could have,&uot; she recalls. &uot;On Wednesday, I had to get it straight!&uot;

That afternoon, she couldn’t shake the thought that a victory was in her grasp. &uot;She kept asking me, ‘Am I in the lead? Am I in the lead?’&uot; recalls Shanice’s father Robert. &uot;But I wouldn’t tell her; I just kept telling her to play her best.&uot;

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As the tournament ended, Shanice found that her best had been good enough; she won the tournament with a final score of 104.

&uot;I was really excited,&uot; she says. &uot;I won a brand new Ping putter, but it’s still too big for me!&uot;

Earlier in the day, her older sister Tiffany had taken the first step toward making the tournament a female Mason sweep; with a final score of 162, she won the 12-17 division and became the tournament’s lowest female scorer.

&uot;I hadn’t played as well as I’d wanted to on Tuesday,&uot; says Tiffany. &uot;I’d shot an 81, because my putting was killing me. I shot an 81 on Wednesday too, but I still thought I was a little bit better.&uot;

Tiffany first started playing golf in 1998, after her brother Calvin became involved with the Southeastern Junior Golf Association, a non-profit organization designed to help youths become involved with the game of golf (Greg Hunt Jr., whose father Greg Sr. founded the organization, is currently the top-ranked player on the Nansemond River High School golf team).

&uot;Golf isn’t a sport that everyone plays,&uot; Tiffany explains. &uot;I just wanted to try something different.&uot;

In her first tournament, the Chip Winslow tournament, held at the Suffolk Golf course in 1998, Tiffany placed third. &uot;That just made me wanted to keep trying until I won.&uot; At last week’s Portsmouth tournament, that moment finally came.

Her little sister’s first victory came slightly earlier; in 1999, her first year of playing, Shanice won a chip-and-putt competition at the Suffolk Golf Course.

In the Portsmouth tournament, Shanice was part of the 8-11 group. But she was already used to being one of the smallest players on the links. &uot;I finished fourth at the state tournament in July (in Charlottesville),&uot; she remembers. &uot;The whole time, people there were talking about how young and cute I was!&uot;

With one win under her belt, Tiffany is ready for some more wins; today, her and her sister head back to City Park to take part in the Tidewater Junior golf tournament. She’s also one of two girls on the Nansemond River High School golf team.

&uot;I started out at sixth last year, and I moved up to fifth by the end,&uot; says the sophomore Lady Warrior. &uot;This year, I want to go higher.&uot;