Driving for a second straight title

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Bernadette Little focuses on the ball while practicing Friday morning at Abercrombie Country Club. She will be defending her Nova Scotia Junior Championship after winning last season.

When Bernadette Little steps on the course Monday she will officially be defending her Nova Scotia Junior Championship title. To win back-to-back years will be no small task.

Playing out of the Abercrombie Country Club, Little has home course advantage, something she didn’t have last season when she won in Ingonish.

“It will hopefully help me out when it comes to what clubs to play in certain situations or the speeds of the greens, but I’ll still have to just focus on my game and execute on the course,” she said Friday while practicing. “Julia (Henderson) will also be competing so she knows the course as well. Being from here will help, but won’t win the tournament for me.”

Little tees off at 7:10 a.m. on Monday with Henderson and Emily Romkey. She says that the biggest difference in her preparation between this year and last is that she is playing more.

“Last season I was hitting more balls on the range and working with my clubs more, but this year I’m playing the course more,” said Little. “I generally play by myself and try to mentally treat the games as if they’re provincials.”

At times she plays with Henderson. She said that by having each other around they are able to push each other to improve because they’re both in the same age group and at the same course.

“We like to have fun when we go out, but obviously we still want to win as well,” she said. “When we aren’t in competition we like to help each other out and enjoy the game.”

Aside from focusing on the upcoming Junior Championships, Little will be attending Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. with a golf scholarship. The push towards improving her golf game began three years ago when she started playing competitively, but she began playing when she was 12-years-old.

“I always hoped I’d get something with golf and stopped playing soccer in the summer with the hopes of improving my golf play,” said Little. “Taking that extra time to focus on golf I have improved my technical game and am now able to focus on the mental aspect of the game.”

The mental aspect will be vital for her on Monday. She said last year when she had the lead it was tougher to simply focus on each shot.

“It’s a whole different game when you’re in the lead and two years ago I didn’t have to worry about that when I finished second,” said Little. “Last year I was constantly doing the math in my head to figure out if I was still ahead or how close others were to me. Being able to just play your game is a little tougher in the lead, but I’m trying to work on that mental aspect of it.”

The tournament runs July 9-12 at Abercrombie Country Club.

Organizations: Abercrombie Country Club, Lee University

Geographic location: Ingonish, Cleveland, Tenn.

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