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Putting college golf behind her, Casie Cathrea moves on to the “next phase”

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This time last year Livermore’s Casie Cathrea couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about heading off to Oklahoma State University in Fall 2013 for her first year of college, and college golf. Now, in January 2014, after a disappointing experience under brand-new OK State head coach Courtney Jones, Cathrea is back home in Livermore and ready to move on to the next phase in her golf career.

Casie was recruited by the previous head coach of the OSU women’s golf team, Alan Bratton, and was an enthusiastic “future Cowgirl” from the moment she signed her letter of intent. She was usually to be seen wearing OSU’s orange & black at tournaments last year, and started housing her clubs in a bright orange OSU golf bag.

Changes were in the works even before Casie headed off for Stillwater last fall. Bratton moved into the head coach position for the OK State men’s team – left vacant by the firing of Mike McGraw, who had held the job for eight seasons – and with Bratton’s departure to the men’s program, his assistant, Courtney Jones, moved up into the head coach spot for the women’s team.

Friction developed between the freshman Cowgirl and the inexperienced new head coach when agreements that had been reached between Coach Bratton and Casie’s support team about the continuance of her well-developed training regimen were not honored by Coach Jones.

Oklahoma State made no accommodation for Casie’s system in any shape, way, or form,” her father, Harry, said in an interview.

When Casie’s playing privileges were suspended because of the disagreements about training, she began to think about moving on. Casie came home to Livermore for the holidays, and was set on asking for a release, and severing ties with OSU, but returned to campus in the new year, having been asked to come back. The situation did not improve, however, so on the last weekend of January, Casie put Stillwater in her rearview mirror for good and returned home to Livermore.

Asked if she was disappointed that things didn’t work out with OSU, Casie said, “Yes, I am. I was promised things that never happened. I was a young player with expectations (working under) a new coach with little understanding of my system.”

Casie’s intense training regimen suffered while she was at OSU, but she is getting back on track now that she has come home. “I was off enough to be uncomfortable,” she said of her time at OSU, “although swing and power work is right on track again.”

On a lighter note, asked if her father was going to have to shell out for a new wardrobe now that she will no longer be a Cowgirl, Casie replied, “Championship Orange will always be a part of first- and final-day clothing!” Dad must be relieved…

The “next phase”

The immediate next step for the 18-year-old is earning a spot on the 2014 United States Curtis Cup team. Casie is one of a dozen or so amateur women who are in the running for a spot on the team, which will try to take back the cup from the Great Britain & Ireland team June 6th–8th at St Louis Country Club. Having already represented the USA on winning Junior Solheim Cup and Junior Ryder Cup teams, Casie is anxious to make the Curtis Cup squad and represent her country in international competition again.

Before and after the Curtis Cup, Casie will be defending three titles she won last year. In February and March she will defend her San Francisco City Championship title, and in mid-June, just days after the Curtis Cup competition wraps up, she will be heading to Niagara Falls Country Club in upstate New York to mount a defense of her Porter Cup title.

A prestigious amateur competition which began in 1959, the Porter Cup only added a women’s championship last year, and the youngster from Livermore got her name in the first spot on the trophy with her victory last summer.

To continue what looks to be a very busy summer for Casie, she will return to the United States Women’s Open Championship, being played June 19th–22nd at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in Pinehurst, New Jersey, to defend her 2013 Low Amateur title.

Casie battled New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, who was then the #1 women’s amateur golfer in the world, for Low Amateur honors in the 2013 event, prevailing by two strokes over the Korean-born Ko. Low Amateur and runner-up from the previous year qualify directly into the 2014 event if they are still amateurs. Ko turned pro in October 2013, so she will not be back in the running for the amateur title at Pinehurst in June, but Casie will be mounting her third title defense of the year at historic Pinehurst #2.

Casie’s status as a 72-hole competitor at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open also qualifies her for entry into the 2014 U. S. Women’s Amateur, which will be contested at Nassau Country Club, in Glen Cove, New York, August 4th–10th.

And after a whirlwind summer of high-level amateur competition, what’s next for this hard-working young lady? LPGA Q-School and a shot at a pro career, of course.

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