Casie Cathrea has accomplished a lot in golf, and she's only 17 years old.

She hasn't even finished 18 yet, although she appears on course for big things.

Cathrea, of Livermore, last month qualified for the U.S. Women's Open after winning a sectional qualifying event at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City with a 36-hole score of 4-under 140.

The U.S. Women's Open will be at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., on June 27-30.

Cathrea, a Blackhawk Country Club merit member who is headed to Oklahoma State in the fall, seems as ready for a major challenge as a teenager could hope to be.

Consider that she has already participated in two LPGA events, including becoming the second-youngest player to Monday qualify for a tour event, as a 13-year-old in the 2009 CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge at Blackhawk Country Club. And then she aced her first LPGA test, with a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th hole.

What stood out about the CVS experience?

"What I remember is I birdied 18 two days in a row," she said.

At the LPGA event in Blackhawk, Cathrea met caddy Steve Molinelli, who was "caddying for one of the girls in my group, and he sent my dad an e-mail after the tournament telling me what I could have done better to be successful," Cathrea said.

Cathrea, who has been through six golfing instructors since age 5, credits Molinelli with helping her at the U.S. Open qualifier, where she had rounds of 69 and 71 and prevailed by four strokes.

"I think I pretty much had the best caddy in the field," she said.

What are the keys to success at the U.S. Open?

"I pretty much have to stay patient," Cathrea said, adding that she's reached out to two-time U.S. Open champion Juli Inkster, a former San Jose State star, and former LPGA Tour veteran and two-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion Kay Cockerill, seeking advice on how to handle the big event.

Because of her busy schedule in golf, Cathrea has attended high school at an independent study program in San Ramon, in which students who are traveling a lot, such as actors, can have flexibility with school work.

"I tried high-school golf and I loved the camaraderie, but it just didn't work for me," she said.

So, not surprisingly, she looks forward to being part of a Cowgirls team at Oklahoma State, which won the Big 12 championship last season and finished 12th at the NCAA tournament.

Cathrea says the Cowgirls' "awesome" home course, Karsten Creek Golf Club, and their "amazing" coach, Alan Bratton, influenced her decision to play there. She also considered Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Texas.

"The coach, the golf course and the facility," she said. "Golf is definitely a priority at Oklahoma State."

Golf has been a priority for Cathrea since she was kindergarten age. She is buddies with golfing great Ben Crenshaw, for one, and has worked since age 8 with Florida-based Dr. Robert Neal, an Australian with a PHd in Biomechanics. Neal reportedly has published over 15 international scientific journal articles on golf mechanics. Team Cathrea also includes a trainer and a physical therapist.

As for her ability to seemingly handle all challenges, Cathrea credits her parents, Harry and Railene, who have taught her success comes through hard work.

"I've had some great coaches along the way," added Casie, who also plays out of Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore, which has supported her career.

On the family's website, is a breakdown of Casie's numerous accomplishments, including 160 tournament wins; 2010 and 2011 NCGA Player of the Year; 101-12 match-play record; 2009 California Amateur champion; and 2010 representative USA Evian Masters Junior Cup.

Clearly, golf is serious business for Casie, who likes to grip-it-and-rip-it from the tee.

"I can definitely say I like to hit it hard and far," she said.

Contact Matt Schwab at mschwab@bayareanewsgroup.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/schwab_matt.

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