Rock Bridge golfer has high hopes

Monday, August 31, 2009 | 3:15 p.m. CDT; updated 8:22 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 31, 2009

 COLUMBIA — A typical golf course’s soundtrack includes players yelling “Fore,” “Bite” and “Get in the hole!” Rock Bridge High School senior golfer Kayla Burri has added one more to her playlist.

Every time Burri, 17, hits a nice shot, she lets out a Tarzan-like “Eh Oh” yell that echoes around the course. The rest of the Bruins seem to be following suit.

“Our assistant coach thought it was pretty catchy,” Burri said. “It’s kind of become our war cry.”

That war cry is one of the ways the Bruins have bonded playing a sport that is individual by nature. Rock Bridge coach Melissa Melahn said coming together as a team, not talent, is the determining factor between having a good and a special season.

“We’ve had the talent, we still have the talent, to be that top team,” said Melahn, as the Bruins prepared for a 4 p.m. match today against Hickman.

The talent includes junior Meghan Mueller, a top-10 golfer in the state, along with seniors Jackie Davis and Burri. Those three lead the Bruins on the course, but it is Burri’s attitude that is making this year’s team different from the past.

“Rock Bridge has really never been that team (to beat) in the last 20 years,” Melahn said. “This is the first year I’ve seen them pull together. Kayla has been a good person to lead that.”

Burri has the unique ability to stay mentally focused while keeping her teammates loose. Many of the Bruins spoke of past experiences in which they allowed one bad shot to ruin entire rounds. Not this season. Burri has made it a priority to change the mental makeup of her team. Davis, who Burri recently passed into the second slot on the depth chart, knows firsthand the effects of her playing partner.

“I used to let every shot bother me,” Davis said. “She helps calm me down.”

Burri is not limited to being the goofy mascot in charge of policing pouting and thrown putters. Her natural athleticism has helped her transition from being a varsity starting shortstop on the softball team her freshman year into a golfer who qualified for state as a junior.

Burri has a strong will to win hidden beneath her smiles and giggles. She and Davis, who has also been to state, said they want more out of their final season. The seniors’ biggest goal is to go to state as a team for the first time since they arrived at school.

“She (Burri) doesn’t let anybody know she’s competitive,” Melahn said. “She has that competitiveness but is able to still have fun with it.”

But as much as she wants success for Rock Bridge, individual goals do not seem to be a part of Burri’s vocabulary. When asked repeatedly how she wished to finish when the schedule was over, she would only speak about having a good attitude and being proud of the other girls.

Regardless of the outcome at the end of October, Burri will make her senior campaign a positive one.

“She’s never down,” Melahn said. “She really just is never down.”

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