EPHRATA — It’s Pac-12 golf. Just the mention of her future brings a beaming smile to the Ephrata senior’s face.
Kenedee Peters greeted all who walked into the Ephrata High School library on the second floor Wednesday afternoon with a smile of acknowledgment and appreciation in a place normally known for its Tiger orange and black. The crimson balloons and tablecloth were a dead giveaway something was up.
Ephrata girls golf coach Heidi Burns walked in wearing crimson from head to toe. “What? Ya think I’m going to show up at this special event wearing anything but my best Coug stuff?”
It went without saying. Peters made the verbal commitment to Washington State University a year and a half ago, and now with golf weather in hibernation for the next six months, it was time to make it official.
She sat down at the table and signed her name on the dotted line, making her golf scholarship to Washington State official.
“It’s exciting this is finally here. I gave the verbal the July after my sophomore year,” said Peters, who is a two-time 2A state medalist headed into her final prep season. “(The full-ride scholarship) isn’t even about the money. It’s a chance to play Pac-12 golf against the some of the best competition in the country. That’s why this means so much.”
For a girl that rode the wave of excitement generated by Tiger Woods in his prime when he made the game cool, breaking down barriers and showing the world golf was no longer an old-man’s game, Wednesday afternoon was a defining moment.
“I’ll be playing at a level where everybody is good,” she said. “I need the competitiveness because that’s what’s going to push me to the next level.”
This past summer, she established herself a rising star on the regional women’s amateur golf horizon with a top-20 finish in the 56-golfer field at the U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifier at the OGA Golf Course, Woodburn, Ore. LPGA Tour player Becky Morgan of Wales (66-70) won the thing with 8-under-par 136, but Peters was 20th in a field that featured eight professionals and 48 amateurs, including the NCAA National Champion, Monica Vaughn (72-73-145) from Arizona State University.
She added additional credibility points by making it to the semifinals in the elite field at the 116th PNGA Women's Amateur at Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton where she lost to Samantha Martirez, from California Baptist University, 3 & 2 in the semifinals after an impressive run through the predominantly collegiate field that included just two high school players.
“I played really well last summer and I hope it’s an indicator of things to come,” said Peters, who was also second at 62nd PNGA Junior Girls Amateur Championships at Sandpines Golf Links in Florence, Ore.
“I knew my game and I had nothing to lose,” she said. “I went out there and played. That’s what makes this opportunity (to play at Washington State) so exciting.
“Today, makes it real and it’s on to the next thing. I can’t even describe it.”
Peters has one more 2A season where she hopes to add a third state medalist to the resume. She intends to scale back her Washington Junior Golf schedule to focus on college-field events to prepare her for the next level.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org