PLEASANTON — Pro golfer Pat Hurst was a big hit with Kortnie Maxoutopoulis at the luncheon before this week's Trader Joe's Junior Golf Championship at Castlewood Country Club.
Hurst, a veteran of the LPGA tour and host of this week's American Junior Golf Association event, said just what the Foothill High star needed to hear. after she was asked by a competitor how to handle the pressure of a final round.
"Just relax and enjoy it and take it one shot at a time," Maxoutopoulis, 17, recalled of Hurst's advice.
She hit the bull's-eye.
Maxoutopoulis has been struggling with her mental approach, putting too much pressure on herself.
"It was really cool," Maxoutopoulis said. "My dad was there too. He looked back at me and said, 'This is exactly what we've been talking about.'"
Maxoutopoulis followed with back-to-back 2-over par 72s Tuesday and Wednesday in the 54-hole Trader Joe's Junior Championship on the Castlewood Hill Course — her home turf. She competes for the Castlewood Junior team in the Bay Cities League.
Maxoutopoulis shot a final round 74 on Thursday and finished tied for fifth with Paige Lee of Folsom at 218. Stephanie Hsieh of Alamo was tied for 17th at 230. In the boys division, Justin Pagila of Dublin was fourth at 207, and Tanner Hughes of Livermore was seventh at 210. Another Foothill player, Brett Thawley, was tied for 43rd with Kyle Bowser of Danville at 223.
The AJGA event had 99 players, ages 12-18, representing 10 states. There were players from Canada, China, Mexico and the Philippines.
Hurst, a San Leandro native, former San Jose State star and 1996 AJGA Junior All-American, spoke about her golf experiences at the luncheon, took questions, then guided the young competitors out to the driving range where she discussed tournament preparation, swing techniques and the like.
"We were asked to call out a shot and she had to hit it and you had to hit it," Maxoutopoulis said.
Hurst got her start in the Castlewood Junior Program along with PGA Tour professionals Todd Fischer, Joel Kribel, and LPGA players Paula Creamer and Dana Dormann. Fischer has been working with Maxoutopoulis on her short game,
It turns out Maxoutopoulis' entire family is hooked on golf.
Her dad and practice partner, Jeff Maxoutopoulis, is a Castlewood member and helped coordinate the AJGA event. Her grandfather, Steve, got her started with the game and is an avid reader about golf. Kortnie's younger brother, Troy, plays for the Foothill boys team.
Kortnie Maxoutopoulis, a strong student, is being recruited as a golfer by several colleges, including two or three Pac-10 schools. She was an all-East Bay Athletic League selection last fall.
Now she's learned how to stay cool in the summer heat from a real pro.