LaBrae’s Harford keeps driving ahead

LEAVITTSBURG – Haylee Harford spent the past two summers winning numerous junior tournaments. She didn’t quite experience the same dramatic victories in 2014, but this summer was just as special for the LaBrae senior.

“Every summer is different for me,” she said. “I didn’t really have any wins, but it was certainly better, experience-wise.”

She placed third in a pair of American Junior Golf Association tournaments in Kentucky and New York. In Kentucky, she shot 71-73-73 for a three day total of 217. In New York, she shot her three day personal best at even-par, 75-67-74. Harford was invited and played in the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions in Nashville, Tenn. at the end of June, but missed the cut by 1 stroke.

“It’s a big deal (to play in that tournament), still being in high school,” Harford said.

Also in June, she competed in a tournament in Michigan and qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior Championship at the Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz.

“It was simply beautiful out in Arizona,” Harford said. “I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to play in some beautiful places.”

In July, Harford shot a 1-under, 71 at a course in Dayton, which qualified her for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur in Glen Cove, N.Y. at Nassau Country Club.

Now, she’s back in the groove of the high school schedule, leading the Vikings to a 7-4 record this season. On Thursday, she carded a 35 against Newton Falls. On Wednesday in a match against Champion at Riverview, she shot a 32 on the par 36 front nine.

“The summer she had was spectacular,” LaBrae coach Brad Barnhart said. “Her game has progressed greatly and her short game and putting are over the edge right now.

“It’s really impressive to see her play at an away match. She can adapt quickly to different surroundings and new greens. She plays well at Riverview since that’s been her home course, but she plays well regardless at any course.”

Aside from Harford, LaBrae’s top rotation includes Grant Sprague, Brandon Bergstrom, Jason Downey and Tyler Morrison.

“Everybody is trying to compete at her level,” Barnhart said. “The people that play with her generally play better because the level of concentration is higher and they’re more focused on being competitive with an elite golfer.”

Even opposing coaches can tune in to what Harford can do.

“Haylee is a tremendous golfer and a true Division-I talent,” Newton Falls coach Scott Kernen said. “She does not take any crap from the boys. She will beat just about every boy out there.”