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TC junior golfer feels no pressure against the boys
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Kathleen Rojas was first introduced to golf at age 3, not long after learning how to walk.
About a decade and a half later, she’s reached an apex.
“Personally, I don’t think I’ve played this well before in my life,” she said.
It could be viewed as a sort of warning for her competitors, especially because it comes from a teenage girl who regularly plays against the opposite sex. Rojas is one of two female golfers — the other being Esther Rojas, her kid sister who’s playing at the high school level for the first time as a freshman — on the Turlock Christian High boys golf team. The school doesn’t have a girls team.
But her expectations are team-oriented. Asked about her goals for this season, the junior talked about the Eagles’ upcoming play at the Yellowjacket Invitational on Monday at Stevinson Ranch. Asked again about her goals for this season because her first answer wasn’t exactly on point, she mentioned something about helping the Eagles to their seventh consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section title.
It’s natural to have a team-first attitude during the spring, as she’s not allowed to play in the boys golf postseason unless the Eagles qualify as a team.
Though she says she’s playing her best golf right now, Rojas just wants to help out.
But a lot is expected from Turlock Christian’s No. 2 golfer, who’s right behind senior Beau Warda, a CIF NorCal Championship qualifier last season. Rojas has two seasons of high school golf left and a lot to live up to.
“She beats a lot of the boys she plays against,” Coach Jeff Cederlind said, “which is fun.”
It’s not like she hasn’t proven herself against the girls. In the fall, she had an epic display of golf as an at-large participant — since, again, there’s no girls team at Turlock Christian — at the Section’s Division V Championship at Stevinson Ranch. She won the individual title by firing off an 84, which many coaches thought was impossible due to the amount of wind, freezing cold and blowing dirt the weather produced that day in late October of last year. It was the type of performance that left her body shaking even days after it all ended.
Rojas then went on to the Section’s Masters Tournament and was just one stroke away from advancing to NorCals. She did all this without any sort of preparation before the girls postseason began, as she didn’t golf for two months before that. That type of run gave her confidence heading into the spring.
So playing against boys isn’t as big of a deal anymore.
“I have to admit, at first it was,” she said. “When I was younger, when I started my first year as a freshman, I felt like I had to prove myself. I was the smallest, the shortest, the youngest and a girl.”
Well, she’s also been around adversity all her life. Her father, Francisco, was the one who introduced her to golf. He had dreams of playing in the U.S. Amateur Championship until it became hard to grip a golf club because of a skin condition that caused blisters. But he didn’t completely walk away from the sport. He still spends time teaching his daughters — 7-year-old Rosalyn is the latest Rojas to pick up golf — the game despite the pain in his hands.
That keeps Kathleen Rojas striving for more.
“That’s one of the reasons why it makes no sense to quit playing golf,” she said. “I would never do that to my own father, who spent so much time teaching the game to his daughters.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.