E.A. Sports Today

Howard closing in

[corner-ad id=2]Former Alexandria golfer reaches championship match in flight at Women’s State Am

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

GADSDEN – Everywhere Jessica Howard has turned in her first appearance in the Women’s State Amateur she runs into a familiar face.

The former Alexandria golfer advanced to the second flight championship match in the 83rd Women’s State Am Thursday when she defeated top-seeded and future Montevallo teammate Alexis Berger of Alabaster 1 up at Gadsden Country Club.

She will play seventh-seeded Jan Berry of Madison Friday at 8:40 a.m. It’ll be another familiar face across the tee box as Howard remembers Berry as the starter on the first tee at several state tournaments she played in with the Valley Cubs.

“She came up and talked to me,” Howard said. “I told her I remember you from starting me off and she said I remember you, too. Tomorrow will be a good day.”

It has been a good week so far for Howard, who just completed her freshman season at Montevallo and is working this summer at Cider Ridge Golf Club. With Jacksonville High golf coach Shane Harper on the bag providing insight and support, she won her first match 7 and 6, and came from behind twice Thursday in beating Berger.

Howard fell behind early, then won holes 4 and 5 to move ahead before falling behind again when Berger won 10 and 12. She won 13 and 14 with pars to retake the lead, then matched her opponent par for par coming home.

“The transition from high school to college has been a total 180, and that change has definitely enabled me to get better in different ways with my golf game,” Howard said. “My game overall has improved so much.

“I think the more you work at it and the more time I spend practicing the better it gets. It might not show immediately but eventually it will and I think that’s what’s happened the last two days at the State Am.”

Ten-time champion Kathy Hartwiger of Birmingham will play Hartselle’s Heather Nail in the championship flight final. Hartwiger won her semifinals match in 24 holes.

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