By VINCE PELUSO
For the third-consecutive year, Geneva junior Danielle Nicholson heads to The Legends in Massillon today in search of another berth to the Division I state tournament in Columbus.
Nicholson qualified as the medalist at the Tamer Win sectional after shooting a 4-over part, 78.
The 2011 Division I state champion and Geneva coach Rob DiPofi went to Massillon on Monday for a practice round on a course that DiPofi said was playing very wet.
“It was wet, real wet,” he said. “I would think there will be some sort of amended rules for play tomorrow. But it is supposed to be in the low 60s and it looks sunny, from what I saw.”
Nicholson is no stranger to the course, having shot 75 there the last two years.
Only time will tell whether that score is good enough to get out again.
The top five individuals for non-qualifying teams advance to state.
“We’ve been down here a handful of times over the years, a few holes you call birdie holes and other holes where you’re satisfied with par,” he said. “It’s going to take that number or maybe 74, but that’s a ballpark guess. She practices a great deal at Madison Country Club. I think her playing there helps her. I did not think the greens were rolling real quick today, but I think they’ll get it cut and get things clean for tomorrow to make things quicker.
“I think the course should play to her favor. The rough is thick. I have a lot of confidence in her. I’ve seen her play a lot of golf, I think she’ll get it done.”
With Nicholson’s length, a wet course could play to her advantage.
“I would say ultimately yes (it benefits her),” DiPofi said. “With the course being wet, it could play in her favor because she hits the ball long. I think if it plays longer, it might move scores up a little individually and that favors her.
“She knows that if she’s able to hit her approach shots she’s got a good shot to advance.”
Although The Legends district has five players advance to Columbus — most districts only advance the top four — DiPofi believes it’s no easy task for Nicholson to make it out because of the quality of the field.
“I would perceive it to be extremely difficult,” he said. “Five teams qualify and five individuals, and I think a number of good players in this district are going to be on teams that qualify. But the field of players is as deep as I can ever remember.”
After winning a state championship as a senior, Nicholson set the bar about as high as possible.
Is that standard too high for a junior in high school?
Maybe, but DiPofi said it’s the one that most people measure Nicholson by.
“Ultimately people are going to look at the round, and if they don’t fall in her favor and she’s not able to qualify, I don’t want that to detract from what a great player she is,” he said. “This is the toughest district there is. After she won two years ago then last year when finished in the top 10, people said to me, ‘What’s wrong with her?’
“Nothing is wrong with her, there’s just some really good players in the state. Ultimately I think she’ll advance, but it won’t stun me if she doesn’t because the field is that tough.”
Nicholson tees off on the south side at 9:50 a.m. today.