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HUTTON: Harley Dubsky adjusts her game like a pro (which she may be one day)

Valparaiso's Harley Dubsky watches her drive Saturday during final round girls golf state finals. Dubsky wstate title. | Eric Greulich/Champions

Valparaiso's Harley Dubsky watches her drive Saturday during the final round of the girls golf state finals. Dubsky won the state title. | Eric Greulich/Champions Illustrated

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Updated: November 7, 2013 6:55AM



FRANKLIN — There is no way of actually verifying it, but this can safely be said about Harley Dubsky’s season:

The Valparaiso senior had one of the best, if not the best, start-to-finish years in the history of girls golf in Indiana. She finished 28-under par for all her matches and tournaments. She finished it off appropriately with a state title. There is no better player in the state over the last three months.

Dubsky won the title with a spectacular flourish — one that only she was capable of pulling off.

She brought herself back from a potentially tournament-changing stretch on Friday, when she reeled off five birdies and an eagle consecutively in six holes. How many golfers on any level have ever had that kind of stretch?

At 3-over going into No. 12 on Friday, she was on the cusp of losing it before she turned things around in a moment when she knew she had no choice but to turn it on. This is what great players do. They deliver under immense pressure in the most difficult circumstances.

Her hiccups on the final two holes didn’t hurt her because she had built up such a cushion. She absolutely deserved to win.

Let me write that one more time so everyone understands: Dubsky likely had the best season ever for a high school golfer in the state of Indiana.

She won the title Saturday under brutal conditions — intermittent rain, enough wind to be annoying and greens that were uneven.

Winning the state title was more of challenge for Dubsky than it was for Kelly Grassel. Grassel, of Chesterton, brought home the last two titles.

Dubsky’s problem was unique and not one that many high caliber players face.

She hits the ball more like a male than like a girl. Her drives, if she decides to air it out, travel around 280 yards. She would likely be in the top 10 in driving distance on the LPGA Tour if she played now. The Legends of Indiana Golf Course was set up at 6,097 yards, which was relatively long for a girls tournament. The regional last week at Battle Creek was around 5,500 yards.

No one, perhaps ever, has had to adjust a style of play more than Dubsky has had to in order to actually win the tournament.

When she figured it out, when she came back from Florida this spring, where she worked at an academy to get better in every facet of her game, she was unstoppable. She shot a 65 at Youche Country Club, a 66 at Curtis Creek Country Club in the Rensselaer Invite, a 70 at the LC Invite and then her stunning 4-under par round on Friday.

Her short game was impeccable and she was finally comfortable, at least to a degree, using mid irons and hybrids off the tee instead of 3-woods and drivers, in many of her tournaments.

The best part of Dubsky’s game is yet to come.

She’ll get to air it out next year in college. Their setups measure in the 6,400-yard range.

In many ways, Dubsky was a college player trapped in a high school game for the last four years. Distance is a huge factor in golf at the very highest levels. Yes, I’m talking about the LPGA.

Leigh Ann Hardin, who is the only girl from Indiana ever to win the individual title three times, just gave up — at least for now — on her goal of playing the LPGA. She was a three time All-American at Duke and a great, great player. But her game was thrown off kilter, by her own admission, when she needed to get longer for the LPGA. She was a finesse player. She relied on tempo and precision. She couldn’t get the extra yards she needed to keep it in the fairway.

This is why Dubsky has a huge longterm advantage over her peers. She knows how to hit it far and she figured out how to get up and down this year. She loves to work hard at getting better and she loves the game.

It’s a devastating combination — one that very well could have her playing on television in the not-so-distant future — with players like Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis.



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