Player to Watch: Nicole Morales, John Jay-CR
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The stories around Centennial Golf Club in Carmel have practically become legend. Time after time, an able-bodied, low-handicapped male would tee it up and not only would they get beat by a tiny pre-teen girl, she’d likely out-drive them, too.
Nicole Morales is the definition of a prodigy. Ever since she began seriously playing golf, she’s not only been one of the region’s best at her age, but one of the nation’s.
Morales, who’ll be a junior at John Jay-Cross River, is the accomplished a female junior golfer since Meaghan Francella, a Port Chester native who’s an seven-year veteran on the LPGA Tour.
Just 16, Morales continues to build an impressive resume. In July, she played in the prestigious U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, which is the premier event in the world for girls 18-and-under. She made it out of the stroke-play round for the second year in a row, won her first two matches but lost in the round of 16.
During the high school season, Morales competed against the boys and was nearly untouchable. She finished the regular season with a 1.98 average differential and was a favorite to compete for a Section 1 Championship in an all-male field. She, however, opted to bypass the event to play in a premier AJGA event.
Morales finished seventh in the Section 1 Championship as a freshman, earning a spot in the New York State Open. As the lone female in the field, she was tied for 30 th out of 99 golfers.
This summer, she posted a second-place finish at the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior and a sixth-place at the Rolex Tournament of Champions. She’s currently ranked eighth in the world and third in the nation among girls her age.
In 2011, she won the Polo Golf Junior Classic, was third at the Genesis Junior, and sixth at the Junior Orange Bowl International.
There’s still plenty of golf ahead for Morales, this season and especially the next two years at John Jay. She’s already a prized recruit among the nation’s top college.
But Morales will look at etch her name among the best in Section 1 history this spring. Only two girls have ever won the Section 1 Golf Championship, Kelly McCall and Marissa Kamelgarn of Mahopac. Morales has the potential to be the third and the first two-time winner.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com