Saturday, April 21, 2018
Golf

Cambridge Christian's Latanna Stone breezes through summer golf circuit

Like most talented junior golfers, Latanna Stone was busy playing in elite tournaments this summer. Unlike most others, she was bringing home trophies.

In June, Stone, who is a junior on the Cambridge Christian golf team, won the girls Junior Amateur Championship in the 13- to 15-year-old age group at the Oaks Club in Osprey. She shot a final-round 71 to overcome a three-shot deficit.

"That was crazy," Stone said. "It was a lot of fun and gave me a lot of confidence."

The next big tournament was the Optimist International Junior Championships at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens in late July-early August. She scorched the field by four shots after a four-round score of 286 to win the 13-15 age group.

"That was kind of surprising," Stone said. "It was a difficult tournament because there were a lot of rain delays and starts and stops. I had a six-shot lead on the last day so I was able to relax."

That led to another appearance in the Women's U.S. Amateur at the San Diego Country Club in California from Aug. 7-13. She advanced to the match-play round of 62 but lost her first match 1-up to Haley Moore of California. Stone made her first appearance at the U.S. Amateur when she was 10 years old.

"One of my goals was to make it to match play and I was able to do that," Stone said.

After many miles of traveling and hundreds of holes of golf, Stone said she has only one more junior tournament this summer before competition winds down. Then she will focus her attention on high school play.

Although she is home-schooled, Stone has played for Cambridge Christian since the ninth grade. She finished tied for sixth at the Class A state tournament as a freshman with a score of 145. She was tied for 10th last season with 148.

With all of her summer success, as well as her length off the tee and touch around the green, Stone will almost certainly be one of the favorites to make it back to the Class A state tournament at Howey-in-the-Hills. And she's looking forward to getting back to the team aspect of high school golf.

"It's actually really fun because you get to play with your teammates again and meet some new people," Stone said. "It's nice to get out of my comfort zone a little and play with different people."

As a home-schooled student-athlete, Stone has more time than most to work on her golf game. She generally works out and practices in the morning and does her schoolwork at night. Her home course is Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club in Valrico.

She has played golf as far back as she can remember. She's not exactly sure how she took to the game, but once there was a club in her hand it was hard to take it away.

"My dad (Mike) kind of plays for fun but nobody in my family plays competitively," Stone said. "I'm not really sure how I got into it but I became pretty good at it, I guess."

Good enough that she will have a decision to make by the end of next summer. Will she turn pro or stay amateur?

"I'm debating between pros and college golf right now," she said. "It's still early so we'll see how it goes."

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