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Tech golfer eyes USGA tourneys

Posted: June 18, 2012 - 12:11am

After what she did during the school year — posting nine top-10 finishes in 13 tournaments — Texas Tech golfer Gabby Dominguez earned some time off.

Instead, she’ll keep applying herself for another month.

Dominguez and Tech teammate Kim Kaufman begin play today in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, then Dominguez has qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open July 5-8. Neshanic Valley Golf Course in Neshanic Station, N.J., hosts the Women’s Amateur Public Links, and Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisc., is the site of the U.S. Women’s Open.

So much for that summer off.

“It’s been pretty crazy, planning trips,” Dominguez said recently. “I like it, though. I’ve always tried to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open since I was 13. I finally just played like I knew I could play and got in. It’s a crazy month, but I do like it.”

The U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links begins with 36 holes of stroke play today and Tuesday, after which the top 64 players advance to match play from Wednesday through Saturday.

If Dominguez can keep up what she had during the school year, she could make some noise in the upcoming USGA events. She and Kaufman closed their Tech junior seasons this spring by qualifying individually for the NCAA championships. Playing at Vanderbilt Legends Golf Club in Nashville, Tenn., the Tech pair tied for eighth place, easily the best showing all-time by Tech women’s golfers at the NCAA tournament.

Subsequently qualifying for the Public Links and the U.S. Women’s Open felt, to Dominguez, like getting over a hump.

“I felt like I’m a lot better than I was when I came to college, of course,” she said. “But I felt like I wasn’t having results in the bigger tournaments, like the qualifier or anything like that. So just having those results means I’m progressing and I keep progressing, and hopefully I can reach that level to play really good professional golf in the future.”

That would quite a an achievement considering Dominguez didn’t enjoy a silver-spoon start in her golfing pursuits. Her hometown is Chilton, a community about 25 miles south of Waco with a Class 1A high school. Whereas plenty of college golfers honed their skills in American Junior Golf Association events, Dominguez played a few times, but not many, in the AJGA.

“They’re pretty costly,” she said.

But Dominguez didn’t let it hold her back. She won individual district, regional and state championships all four years in high school and quickly established herself as a top-level college golfer. She led the team in strokes-per-round average each of the last three years, and she and Kaufman this year became the program’s first two all-Americans.

In addition to her showing at the NCAAs, Dominguez won the Texas State Challenge in Austin and posted top-10s at three tournaments in Arizona and one each in Colorado, Oklahoma, Florida and Puerto Rico.

“I feel like I’m out there and I’m showing all these people — especially people that maybe didn’t want to recruit me when I came out of high school — that, ‘Hey, I may come from a small town and a small school, but I still have so much ability and I still can play at a top level,” Dominguez said.

Five days after the NCAA championships, Dominguez qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open by shooting even par 144 for 36 holes at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco. That tied for the top spot.

Aside from trying to play her best in over the next few weeks, Dominguez hopes to come back from the U.S. Women’s Open having learned a thing or two.

“I probably would feel like I’m more of a rounded player,” she said. “Especially when I go to the tournament and watch them, I can see what they do, bring that back to college golf and play much better than I’ve been playing — a lot better than I’ve been playing.”

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