A Swedish-American golfer, Annika Sorenstam, holds one of the highest achievements in the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s history, winning 90 international tournaments as a professional, according to Wikipedia. She’s an inspiration for young golfers like City College’s own, Riley Sexton, freshman golfer for the women’s golf team.
“She was the best of the best. She’s what I want to strive to be,” Sexton said.
Sexton spends nearly all her time on the golf course. The women’s golf team practices everyday besides the days they compete in tournaments, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
On the days they do practice, Sexton spends time with her swing coach, a professional golfer/instructor, who trains her to the highest potential she can be, Sexton said.
Practice from 3:15 – 6 p.m. isn’t quite enough for the freshman golfer. She continues to practice afterward for another two to three hours.
Sexton said, after practice, if she doesn’t have class, she’ll go to another golf course to balance out her techniques in all the general areas. Driving, chipping, and especially putting, said Sexton, are the focus of her training.
“Putting is what is key to being successful,” Sexton said.
Sexton began playing golf her freshman year of high school in 2007. It didn’t take her long to get serious about the sport.
She’s been determined to be exceptional since she started playing, Sexton said. When Sexton was 13, she was forced to withdraw from all running sports due to an ATV accident. Sexton said she broke both her legs. Her dad, Michael Sexton, didn’t let her continue the four-sport-season she was used to all her life.
Once golf became an interest, her dad was all in and pushed her as she pushed herself, Riley Sexton said.
Michael Sexton said that he was kicking himself once he realized how good of a golfer Riley Sexton was. Michael Sexton is an avid golfer himself, he said.
“I regret not letting her play sooner. I believe she could’ve been better,” Michael Sexton said. “She actually wanted to golf since she was eight. I didn’t let her though because she was already very active.”
Michael Sexton said that his daughter is an extremely hard worker and he believes that college golf is only the beginning.
College golf is much harder to acclimatize to rather than high school because of the many more rounds played, head women’s golf coach Tim Kiernan said.
Freshmen have a tendency to run into this challenge, said Kiernan. It takes time to get used to the routine, but Riley Sexton has adapted to the schedule quite well, Kiernan said.
“She’s pretty mentally tough…college golf is different, and she’s playing very well, but it’s a lot different than when she was in high school,” Kiernan said.
Kiernan has been coaching golf and softball at City College for 30 years. He’s also coached high school and university golf.
Two-year programs differ from both high school and the university level, Kiernan said. In high school everyone is on the same schedule, Kiernan said. They start and end school at the same time, plus the lesser amount of rounds they play. The point for a two-year program is to get the student-athletes ready for a four-year program, Kiernan said.
“I want to go to a four-year, and I want to go play on the LPGA…I know that I want to pursue golf,” Riley Sexton said.
Captain of the women’s golf team Liz Thomas said Riley Sexton is a very independent and a guiding golfer. Her attitude toward other freshmen golfers proves the leadership she brings everyday to the course, Thomas said.
“She loves giving advice that’s for sure,” Thomas said.
According to Thomas, Riley Sexton is at a very high-level for a freshman, and added that she wouldn’t be surprised if she were to go to a four-year university next year.
“I think that she does have the work ethic to go to the LPGA,” Thomas said.
Riley Sexton said that the motivation she gets comes from the sport itself. She challenges herself on the course everyday to achieve the goals in reach. Riley Sexton said that she loves the sport and will give up most things in order to get better.
If there is a day where she feels the need to take a break, she will—but it doesn’t come often, Riley Sexton said. As of this moment, golf and school are her only priorities.
“I want to be the best I could possibly be, and I know I haven’t reached that yet,” Riley Sexton said. “Until I’ve reached that, I will never be satisfied.”