State

East Union golfer distances herself

Last year, East Union High golfer Krysta Clark was striking the ball as well as ever, and her distance was increasing, too.

But after her 260-yard tee shots and crisp iron play, her putting would let her down.

"Yeah, my putting. ... It was not very good," Clark said last week.

With the help of East Union co-coach and swing instructor Dennis Wells, plus six hours of putting per day during the summer, Clark has propelled the Lancers to a 17-0 dual-match record this season.

"She's going to be as good as she wants to be," East Union co-coach Brian Goulart said. "She's a constant practicer. She's focused when she plays, and she never gets nervous. She's got all the good qualities that good golfers have to have."

Clark's length off the tee is her strong suit, as the slender 5-foot-6-inch junior routinely outdrives the members in her group.

Her Ping G5 driver is guarded by "The Big Dog," a cover her grandfather gave her. The cover is about 6 inches wide and 8 inches long -- easily visible by the gallery of six who watched her Tuesday at Manteca Park Golf Course.

Clark, 16, crushed a 258-yard drive on the 456-yard par-5 fourth hole, setting up a 198-yard second shot. She mis-hit a 3-wood shot that flew about 20 feet off the ground. It still wound up just short of the front left edge of the green, about 45 feet from the hole.

The other girls in her group had no chance to reach the green in 2. Clark does it regularly.

"She's one of the longest drivers I have seen at her age," said Wells, who has coached at East Union for four years. "She's not that big of a girl, but she really hits it far."

Her distance has helped her shoot five rounds under par this season, with a season average around 2 over par. She shot a 38 in Tuesday's win over Manteca and came back Wednesday to win the Sierra Invitational with a 1-over 73.

Her average is lower than last year because her putting is better, and she still practices it the most.

Clark uses a Taylor Made putter with a conventional right-handed grip, her feet spread to about shoulder length.

Wells said she still has trouble with putts shorter than 6 feet; she doesn't want to hit it too hard.

After Clark missed a 6-footer for birdie on No. 6 Tuesday, Wells said she was "putting really timid."

Wells said Clark will continue to improve because of her work ethic.

Her main goal: to help a team with five seniors reach the NorCal Championships this year and stay undefeated in Valley Oak League play.

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