Antalya, Turkey (27 September) – On Sept. 16 at the Michigan State Invitational, Krista Puisite, representing Texas State University, won the individual title at 1-under-par 215 for her second college victory.
A little more than one week later, she made a bold statement about golf in her native Lativa. In the first round of the 2012 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Antalya, Turkey, the 21-year-old from Riga shot a 2-under-par 70 to lead her unheralded team into second place following the first round of the 72-hole competition at Gloria Golf Club.
Puisite’s sister, Mara, 20, also a Texas State Bobcat, fired an even-par 72 to place Latvia just one stroke behind two-time champion Sweden, which has won a medal at the last four Espirito Santo Trophy competitions.
“When I won at Michigan State, I was putting well but my long game wasn’t so good,” said Krista. “Today, my long game was good and my putting was even better.”
Latvia occupied the first position on the leader board for a good part of the day as Krista made four birdies on the first nine and her sister was even par. The elder Puisite then birdied the 10th hole on the New Course to put herself and her team at five under.
“I didn’t even know,” Puisite said. “I knew I had some birdies and I was 3 or 4 or somewhere but I didn’t know I was at 5.”
Her second nine was something of a roller coaster, with back-to-back bogeys on 13 and 14,a birdie on 16 and a double bogey on 17th, leaving her at 2-under-par 70 for the day.
The Puisite sisters were part of Latvia’s debut in the 2008 WWATC in Australia and, along with Laura Jansone, they finished 29th. The trio competed again two years ago in Argentina and finished a disappointing 45th.
Krista explained that her experience and maturity have prepared her for this somewhat surprising emergence.
“Golf is always a maturity thing,” she said. “When you are mature, you don’t stress about missed shots or unlucky lies.”
Santa Puce is in her third stint as Latvian captain and had a good feeling about the day’s performance.
“Krista and Mara have played in the two previous [World Amateurs] and I can see the difference,” Puce said. “I was confident that if all things fell into place we would have two good scores. For small countries like us, it is hard to get two good scores but maturity helps. I hope golf likes Cinderella stories. We are happy to be Cinderella and we are aware of our place on the golf scene. We are still babies in golf. But what makes it good is that other small countries can see that we are having success. These girls are the first generation of home-grown golfers and they are first of the fruits of 15 years or so of Latvian golf.”
Puce is also completely aware that perspective is needed in a 72-hole stroke-play championship. She added: “I am glad we made a little splash on the first day. But, I know that we may not be up there at the end.”
Pete Kowalski is the Media Officer of the WATC. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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