Boys golf

Munster's Gauthier aims to lead team to state

2013-04-16T17:45:00Z 2013-04-17T00:50:05Z Munster's Gauthier aims to lead team to stateMatt Douthett matthew.douthett@nwi.com, (219) 933-4194 nwitimes.com

AJ Gauthier can vividly remember the mental turning point of his high school golf career like it happened yesterday.

The Munster senior golfer played in a tournament Nov. 25 to 27, 2011, at ChampionsGate Golf Resort in Orlando, Fla., with Cameron Andrade, the son of professional golfer Billy Andrade.

"What happened was I was really struggling with my game, mentally, closing down the stretch," Gauthier said. "I would always be in my mind, like, 'Seriously, you've got to play well.' I would go double (bogey), par, bogey, double."

Gauthier finished poorly and was frustrated, but Billy Andrade was complimenting him during his round. Gauthier asked him for help in closing out games.

Andrade's answer was simple. He told Gauthier to learn to care a little less, which in turn caused him to remain calmer under pressure situations.

"Sometimes, I realized that I put too much pressure on myself," Gauthier said. "In retrospect, it's just a game of golf. You're supposed to enjoy it. It's not supposed to stress you out."

Caring a little less doesn't mean Gauthier's competitive fire has burned out. It continues to burn bright, especially given the disappointment of last season.

The Mustangs lost a playoff to Lake Central to finish second at the L.C. Sectional, then finished seventh at the LaPorte Regional with 320 strokes. The competition was so tough in that meet that Munster was only nine strokes behind the third-place team and final state qualifier, Penn.

Gauthier finished with a team-best 75, three strokes off the final individual state qualifier.

"I was disappointed, because it's not often I make five birdies in a round and shoot over par," he said. "It was a reminder that big numbers over bogeys really do hurt your score. While birdies are nice, you have to stay consistent with pars."

The unquestioned leader of the team is also coach Bill Smitka's student aide for his last period U.S. history class. Even during that class, Smitka says Gauthier regularly talks about his golf game.

"He leads by example," Smitka said. "When we play matches, he takes the younger players under his wing. He's a natural leader, a straight 'A' student and has no problem taking control of a situation."

Smitka said there hasn't been a team meeting yet this season where qualifying for state hasn't been discussed. It's an obvious goal of Gauthier's and the rest of his teammates, but there is a very real possibility the Mustangs may not even make it past this year's revamped Lake Central Sectional, which includes Boone Grove and Crown Point.

"Sectionals will be huge, and regionals will be huge, too," Gauthier said. "We've had success in the past at Palmira. We have to make sure we take that back nine and play well on it. Our whole team needs to stay strong mentally."

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Which school has the area's best girls cross country team?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News

Latest Local Offers

Featured Businesses