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Las Vegan Morgan Goldstein hits stride as she returns to Iowa

Updated July 28, 2020 - 2:39 pm

No matter what Morgan Goldstein does for the rest of her golfing career, her name will always be in the record books at Augusta National.

In 2015, the then 13-year-old Las Vegas resident stepped on golf’s hallowed grounds for the Drive, Chip and Putt competition and posted the only perfect score in the competition’s history, besting all 10 finalists in the girls 12-13 class in all three events. It’s an accomplishment still unmatched among boys or girls in any age group.

Her latest pinnacle came earlier this month when she ran away with the Nevada State Amateur Championship at Reflection Bay Golf Club. It’s momentum she will take with her to the University of Iowa next month as she returns for her sophomore season with the Hawkeyes.

Both Goldstein and Iowa coach Megan Menzel hope it’s the confidence builder she needs to improve upon an up-and-down freshman year.

“In the beginning I was kind of getting used to everything and I didn’t play my best,” Goldstein said of college golf.

That wasn’t a surprise to Menzel, who has seen plenty of similar stories play out during her 10 years leading the Hawkeyes.

“College golf is a big jump,” Menzel said. “Freshman year can be overwhelming.”

Living away from home and adjusting to a new environment can take time, Menzel said. Things players took for granted at home like nutrition and sleep are suddenly their responsibility, and it can be weeks or months before it all clicks, she said.

For Goldstein, that happened after the new year. She had her team’s best score at the Westbrook Invitational in Arizona in late February, followed by her first top-10 finish at the Entrada Classic in Utah in March.

Then Covid-19 abruptly ended the season.

“Morgan really made a turn in the spring,” Menzel said. “You could see her comfort level had changed.”

Goldstein took up the game at age 8 and was a natural, peaking five years later with the accomplishment at Augusta National.

The Drive, Pitch and Putt emphasizes a strong overall game, and that’s what Menzel said makes her a special player.

“She’s well-balanced all around,” Menzel said. “She’s just a nice ball striker, very consistent with a great attitude. You can tell her happy place is playing golf.”

Goldstein can’t wait to get back to Iowa, where she is majoring in Sports and Recreation Management.

“I love it there,” she said. “I love the team dynamics. The coaches there are awesome. It’s just a cute little college community. Everyone around the college lives for Iowa. And the people are so nice. It’s so comforting.”

That attitude, along with the victory at the Nevada Amateur, will help Goldstein continue to grow as a person and a golfer, Menzel predicted.

“I want her to enjoy the win, let it soak in,” Menzel said.

Her message will be to focus on what worked that week and to keep her foot on the gas pedal.

Goldstein agrees.

“I’m excited where I’m at right now,” she said.

Chip Shots

— The LPGA Tour returns this week for the first time in almost six months. The Drive On Championship is the first of consecutive events in Toledo, Ohio. This week’s event at the Inverness Club will follow strict safety protocols and have no fans on site. Next week’s Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club is planning for spectators, something the PGA Tour has yet to try since its return eight weeks ago.

— Twelve players punched their ticket for next week’s 77th Arizona Open Championship at a qualifier last week at Las Vegas National. Kyle Souza of Santa Rosa, Calif., led the pack with a 5-under 66. Others from the Las Vegas area moving on to Superstition Mountain Golf Club outside Phoenix are Brandon Bauman, George Lee, Alex Estrada, Canon Olkowski, Trevor Olkowski, Cameron Barzekoff and Brandon Smith.

— The Legacy Men’s Club staged its club championship earlier this month with Bill Fortner claiming the low gross title and Brent Pendleton low net over the two-day event.

Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at robertsongt@gmail.com

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