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The First Tee essay nets St. Joe golfer weekend at Wells Fargo

Tom O'neill

The First Tee essay nets St. Joe

golfer weekend at Wells Fargo

By Tom O’Neill

          Cailey Rooker, a varsity member of St. Joseph’s golf team, responded to The First Tee essay challenge and was among 50 students selected from across the country. The field was narrowed to ten, and then four finalists competing for scholarship monies and a trip to Wilmington, North Carolina and the PGA’s Wells Fargo Championship.

            The St. Joe sophomore didn’t win the grand prize, but got to play in a pro-am with PGA professional Sebastian Munoz and walked 18 holes inside the ropes for Sunday’s finish with Phil Mickelson and Billy Hurley. Hurley finished eighth and Mickelson 18th.

            Wells Fargo has partnered with The First Tee and sponsors “Succeeding Together”, a program celebrating the huge impact The First Tee has on students across the country. Participants are given the opportunity to express how The First Tee has had a positive effect on their lives.

            In her essay, Rooker explained why working with a “Go-To-Team” is important and what specific goals she achieved working together with the team. She also had to write about someone she worked closely with helping her achieve a goal and what made them great to work with.

            Rooker said “it was really fun” playing with Sebastion. “He gave me tips on pitch shots and which wedges to use around the greens. I watched how he set up and his play on the putting greens.”

            While Mickelson and Hurley didn’t converse with them during the round, Mickelson spent time with her after. “He wanted to know what we were planning for our golf career”, Rooker said, and of course, a picture with the winner of 49 tour championships. “He was fun to watch and always had a positive attitude.” Rooker said “He gave away balls during the round to lots of little kids.”

            What did she take away from her experience? “Attitude, and the way they interacted with the crowd and their caddy,” explained Rooker. “If they had a bad hole, they kept their composure. They don’t let a bad shot bother them.”

            Rooker, who also plays tennis for the Regional Team Champion Bears, carries a 3.945 GPA. She explained with all of the honor courses she is or has taken, that average is over 4.0 which will bode well in her college search.

            Last year’s resume included First Team All-State, finishing fourth individually.  She was The Lakeshore Junior Golf Association summer tour champion, as well as The Kalamazoo Valley Junior Golf Association champion. Rooker also competed in the Women’s Western Jr. Championship.

            School ends June 9 but Rooker is already planning her summer tournament schedule. First up is the Hurricane Tour Junior Qualifier (College Prep Series) May 27-29 at Purdue University. She expects to play in four to five events on the tour. The First Tee International Junior Golf Academy is next in South Carolina, June 11-17 followed by the USGA Girls Junior qualifier at Kemper Lakes June 27. Also listed is the Junior PGA qualifier at Bedford Valley June 29 and 30.

            To read her essay go to

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