Huffman relishes male competition in youth golf tournament

BELDEN – Esther Huffman enjoys a challenge on the golf course.
Ask any of the men at her home course – the Greens of Irene in Memphis. The 18-year-old Mississippi State signee and 2010 MHSAA state champion medalist from Olive Branch seeks male competition on the links.
“I want to play against the guys,” she said. “They push me. Girls can push you, but the guys hit it higher and longer. I don’t want to be intimidated in college.
“You don’t want to be a wuss.”
Huffman certainly didn’t play like a wuss during this week’s 24th annual Pros of Tomorrow junior golf tournament at the Tupelo Country Club. She fired a 1-under-par 143 in the 36-hole event, which ended Wednesday, to capture her third consecutive girls title in the event.
She had hoped to post a 3-under-par score on the final 18 holes after recording the tournament’s best round – male or female – with an even-par 72 Tuesday.
“I wanted to shoot 69 and I was 3-under at one point today,” she said. “It didn’t happen, but that’s OK.”
She was 3-under after a birdie on her 12th hole, but followed that up with one birdie, three bogeys and two pars down the stretch.
Huffman, who led Center Hill High School to three consecutive state championships in girls golf, has an immediate goal of qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Junior Amateur. She’ll play in a qualifier next week in Roswell, Ga.
“I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself,” she said. “If I qualify, I qualify.”
The national event, scheduled for July 19-24 at the Country Club of North Carolina, will feature one Northeast Mississippi golfer – Fulton’s Ally McDonald, an MSU commitment who will be a senior this year at Itawamba AHS.
McDonald was at the TCC Wednesday following her future college teammate during her final round.
Huffman’s looking no farther than college when it comes to a career in golf.
“High school took me to college,” she said. “Let’s see where college takes me, if I can perform there.”

Gene Phelp/NEMS Daily Journal