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Girls Golfer of the Year: Chesterton’s Kelly Grassel

Kelly Grassel Chestertsenior is photographed SCreek Country Club golf course ChestertInd. Wednesday October 10 2012. Grassel is Post-Tribune Girls Golf

Kelly Grassel, a Chesterton senior, is photographed at Sand Creek Country Club golf course in Chesterton, Ind. Wednesday October 10, 2012. Grassel is the Post-Tribune Girls Golf Player of the Year. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 26, 2012 7:25AM



Little can be said about Kelly Grassel that hasn’t already been said. But Chesterton coach Dale Hewitt would like to reiterate one word about his standout golfer: clutch.

Unsure of where she stood on the leaderboard while facing her last approach in the second and final round round of the state golf tournament, Grassel sized up an iron shot from about 85 yards out.

With the crowd looking on intently and the state championship potentially hanging in the balance, Grassel stuck the approach shot to within a foot. She sank the putt for a birdie and went on to win her second straight title with a two-stroke victory over East Noble’s Katherine Sharp.

“She’s just clutch, and nothing bothers her,” Hewitt said. “That shot was incredible. All I said at that point was, ‘exclamation point.’ ”

Grassel, the Post-Tribune’s Girls Golfer of the Year, set a course-record 7-under 137 on her way to her second straight title. It capped off a remarkable high school career, cementing herself among the best ever to play high school girls golf in Indiana.

“I’ve had a little chance to let it settle in,” Grassel said. “It was pretty awesome. I had a great experience with the team. Just to succeed individually with them has been really awesome. To have them do well has made me play better and made it so much fun.”

Grassel “struggled” to an 80 at the regional a week before state at the Battle Ground in Lafayette. That 80 in adverse weather conditions earned her a second-place finish, but it was seven shots off medalist Harley Dubsky of Valparaiso.

Grassel shrugged off that regional performance as was solid from start to finish at the state tournament, capturing the first-round lead with a 3-under 69.

“With the pressure situations, they kind of get me more focused,” Grassel said. “When I have pressure on me, I have more adrenaline. It’s kind of fun to me.”

Another example of Grassel’s clutch playing ability came on at the turn on the second day. Uncharacteristically, Grassel asked Hewitt where she stood.

“I said, ‘Do you really want to know?’ ” Hewitt said. “I told her she was probably three or four behind, because Katie Sharp was playing really well.”

Instead of panicking, Grassel went to work.

“I knew I could do it,” Grassel said. “I told myself if I could make five birdies on the last nine holes, I would have a chance. I made four birdies, and it ended up being enough.”

Grassel averaged 70.3 for 18-hole matches this year and 36.5 for nine-hole matches.

“She gets up for those 18-hole tournaments,” Hewitt said. “You’re talking sectional, regional, and state.”

Grassel’s next stop will be at Michigan State, where she will team with Sharp.

“It’s going to be a different type of pressure,” Grassel said. “There are a lot of really good players. College is going to be harder, but I think I’ll still do well.”



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