GAC's Tardy under more pressure in repeat bid

NORCROSS -- This year, there are no surprises.

Bailey Tardy showed up on the girls golf team at Greater Atlanta Christian a year ago relatively unknown. She had played some summer golf and in the small world her name was rising, but by the end of the high school season, she stood alone. A state champion in Class AA and leader of a championship-winning team.

"I don't think anyone knew (I had the ability to win)," Tardy said of her surprise freshman state title.

They certainly know now -- and that changes things for Tardy as she enters a second season of high school golf.

"I think it will be more pressure," Tardy said, noting she already hears from classmates about repeating as state champ. "No one knows how close we won state last year. I didn't win individual that easily."

Well, she won by two strokes over Vidalia's Katie Dalton. But Dalton and Vidalia host this year's state tournament, a long way down the road, but a small concern for Tardy as she prepares for her second season.

"They are like our rivals," she said.

But the summer wasn't a congratulatory tour for Tardy, who played in tournaments across the country, including making the cut in the Girls Junior Amateur. She lost her first round of match-play. But Tardy won a pair of American Junior tournaments, one at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club and another at another at River Landing in North Carolina.

Away from travel and tournaments, Tardy worked on her short game and course management. No more will she rely on tight saves when she can punch out.

"I found my problems on the golf course and if I was in trouble," she said. "I learned to get out of trouble better."

She also learned the better she got, the tougher and longer the courses became. Tardy doesn't remember the names of every course she plays, but she noticed she wasn't approaching greens with the same type of club and was stuck chipping more than she was accustomed.

"My chipping around the greens has been awful. It's been a problem, but it hasn't been that bad until recently because I've been playing longer courses and I've needed to chip more," Tardy said. "You have to have a lot of confidence. I think it's more feel than anything. You have to feel the shot and you have to know how you want to land it and how much spin you want to put on it. It's fundamentals, but it's a lot of feel, too."

Now, after a winter of practice, Tardy is excited for her high school season. The Georgia commit likes playing different course and practicing with different circumstances and troubles on the course.

"I am really excited," she said. "It's all new. I am not a freshman anymore."