Sophomore emerges as star for Durant

Amy West helped lead the Cougars to an undefeated regular season.

Published October 8, 2006

PLANT CITY - Fueled by the return of its top two scorers from the state tournament, Durant had every reason to be optimistic before the start of the girls golf season.

After all, Ashley Miller and Heather Wengyn - both Times' honorable mention all-county selections last season - were back after leading Durant to an undefeated regular season and the district crown.

It's the emergence of another golfer, however, that has the Cougars confident as they prepare for the Class 2A, District 11 tournament Tuesday. Amy West, a sophomore sporting an even-40 nine-hole average over Durant's 13 regular-season victories, has quickly become one of the area's better players and given the Cougars three legitimate No. 1 players capable of putting up a low score on any given day.

"She's done very well," Wengyn said of West. "From last year to this year, it's like a whole different person. Last year she was up and down, but this year she's been very consistent for us."

West's arrival is quite remarkable, considering she never played competitively before last season. Sure, she would go out to the course and hit a few balls with her brother, but her main interest was softball. Golf was only an afterthought.

West soon realized, however, that her chances of getting an athletic scholarship playing softball were unrealistic, so she decided to focus her attention on golf, scrapping softball completely.

She struggled in her first year to crack the Cougars' top five, routinely finishing outside of the scoring. But after hours of practice - "four to five hours a day, every day," according to Wengyn - West has shaved nearly 15 strokes off her average from her freshman season.

"Last year, I was shooting 55, and I was the sixth player on the team," West said. "But I'm a lot more confident now than I was last year."

Now, she has even higher aspirations.

"I want to get a college scholarship to play golf and eventually turn pro," West said.

First, though, West will be looked upon to help Durant repeat as district champions at Summerfield Golf Course on Tuesday after another undefeated regular season for the Cougars.

"We have three really good players leading us," West said. "And our four and five players have been plugging along for us."

Added Miller: "We're confident. We felt like we were all capable of shooting in the 30s during the regular season, but we didn't do that. I think that will change at districts."