It’s said pressure can make diamonds and can also burst pipes. Senior Aubrey Marx has been shining on the golf course for El Dorado since leading the Lady Wildcats to the 5A State championship last year.
Marx and her teammates will be vying for a repeat on Monday when they tee it up in the 5A State Girls Golf Tournament at Glenwood Country Club.
“It’d be amazing if we did that again. I think it would be awesome to be back-to-back. Both boys and girls would be awesome again,” Marx said.
“I think we can do it again. But we do have more pressure.”
The pressure of expectations hasn’t hampered the Lady Wildcats this season. El Dorado won the 5A South championship by 50 strokes last week.
Last year, the Lady Wildcats surprised everyone, including themselves.
“Last year we didn’t even know we were in the running for it,” said Marx. “Coach came up to me and he was like, ‘You’ve got to step it up and play to your best ability.’ I did. We ended up 20 strokes better than everyone.
“This year, now that I know we could possibly win again, it kind of makes me a little stressed, like we’ve got to do it again.”
Individually, Marx finished fourth at the state tournament last year. Her game improved quite a bit as a senior, however. She shot 76 last week and finished as runner-up in the medalist race.
Her best score this season was a 75, shot at Benton.
“Aubrey made a decision last year to not play softball and invest more time into her golf game and that has paid dividends for her,” said El Dorado coach Chris Ezell. “She has improved her scoring average by almost eight shots.”
Marx said she doesn’t regret her decision to focus on golf.
“I’m happy I did it because I learned to love golf more,” she said. “And, it was kind of a struggle during school missing both fall and spring.”
El Dorado’s girls and boys competed in a national high school tournament at Pinehurst in North Carolina over the summer. Marx said she also played in some ASGA tournaments and got in a lot of practice time.
“I wanted to focus on, definitely my putting, and it showed off this year,” she said. “My putting has gotten better. That’s why I’ve gotten down into the 70s.”
Long off the tee, along with hitting ‘em straight, putting has been the key to unlocking her game.
While the team title is Marx’s primary goal, she showed last week she could contend for individual prizes as well. Her 76 at conference sent her into a playoff with Sheridan’s Emma Hester. Hester is the three-time tournament medalist.
Marx missed a 20-foot putt to win on the first hole and a 7-foot putt to tie on the second playoff hole.
“My putting got the best of me,” she lamented.
“She was about two rotations of the golf ball away from winning a sudden-death playoff,” said Ezell. “Her confidence and mental toughness has shown throughout the season. There were around 60 people following the playoff and she stepped up and hit some big shots under that pressure. I was proud of how well she stood up in the moment. She gave herself a chance to win it. Hester just made an outstanding punch shot through a very small window to get onto the green after an errant tee shot put her on a different hole's tee box. All you could do was congratulate her on a fantastic up and down.”
Marx and her teammates have handled the pressure this season. She said her personal goal on Monday is to qualify for the Overall Tournament, which would require a third place showing.
Avoiding big mistakes will be crucial.
“Just to stay focused and be confident in my shots, in my putts. I’ve been practicing all week, especially my putts and my drives. Once you go out in the woods, you’re making it tough on yourself,” she said.
“(Putting) would be the key. If my putting is on, that means more birdies.”
Marx said she’d love an opportunity to play golf in college. For now, she’s focused on the back nine of her high school career.
“It’s been a great season,” she said. “I really want to go out with a bang since it’s the last season I’ve got as a high school student. Hopefully we can be the state champ again.”