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Confidence game

Payge Pleimann’s self-assured playing style has lifted the Kewpies.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:39 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Confidence rules on the golf course.

Payge Pleimann, Hickman’s No. 1 golfer, carries those words with her. They are written on a scorecard from L.A. Nickell Golf Course that she keeps in her golf bag.

Taylor Pleimann, her sister, wrote those words on the scorecard and gave it to Payge Pleimann, 16, before her first high school match.

Payge Pleimann’s confidence should be near its peak this season.

She has won medalist in four consecutive matches and Monday set a personal best for 18 holes while finishing second. Pleimann played with an air cast on her right ankle after spraining it during a soccer match over the weekend.

On a hot streak

The streak started with a 41 on Sept. 4 against Sedalia. Pleimann shot 38 on Sept. 9 against Southern Boone, 39 on Sept. 11 against Jefferson City and 40 on Sept. 15 against Mexico and Rock Bridge.

Pleimann, a junior, shot 90 in the Smith-Cotton Classic on Sept. 16 at Sedalia Country Club, which tied her lowest 18-hole tournament total at the time. Pleimann shot an 81 on Monday at Tanglewood Golf Course.

Coach Doug Steinhoff said he thinks Pleimann has become more comfortable on the course.

“She’s also more confident with her own game,” Steinhoff said.

According to Pleimann, this year she has been mentally tougher.

“It seemed like everything became easier,” Pleimann said. “I stood on the first tee and thought, ‘That’s all I have to do, just get it from here to the green?’”

During a match, Pleimann focuses on one shot at a time.

“I just have to make that shot right there,” Pleimann said. “In matches, I think that way and it helps me a lot.”

Pleimann has been the No. 1 golfer the entire season. She was No. 4 her freshman year and No. 2 last year, though she played at No. 1 for three weeks near the end of last season.

Returning young talent

Pleimann is the only returning golfer on the Hickman team with a full year of varsity experience. Senior Rachel Jacoby, the No. 3 player, was on varsity near the end of last season and played in the state meet.

Pleimann said she knew she needed to play well this season.

“I really think it’s a confidence thing,” Pleimann said. “I feel like now it’s my time to step up.

“If I’m going to be No. 1 on the Hickman golf team, I should be shooting (these scores).”

As the only returning golfer, Pleimann has stepped into a leadership role, though she may not want it. According to Jacoby, the team wants the seniors to be leaders. So Pleimann tries not to take over that job, but even with Jacoby and senior Ashley Mansfield, Pleimann is the one with experience.

“She’s a leader, whether she wants to be or not,” Jacoby said.

With Pleimann leading the way, the Kewpies have played well this year. Hickman’s only loss in a match is to Rolla in a triangular meet. In the Smith-Cotton Classic, the Kewpies finished third. The Kewpies won the William Woods Tournament on Monday by 10 shots.

“I think we’ve shocked a lot of people,” Pleimann said. “Basically I was the only one returning … but this year, it has been fantastic.”

Multi-tasking

Even with the success, golf is not Pleimann’s favorite sport. Pleimann is also on the Hickman soccer team and plays for a competitive club team, Carrera, in the fall. Pleimann says golf is a close second, but she loves soccer.

Carrera plays in tournaments nearly every weekend in the fall, which means Pleimann does not spend much time practicing golf.

According to Jacoby, that’s not a big issue to the team.

“Payge is one of those golfers that can go not playing for six months, then go out and shoot a 37,” Jacoby said. “That’s just the way Payge is; she doesn’t need practice.”

Passing the torch

It helps that Pleimann comes from a golfing family and has played for as long as she can remember.

Her father, Dale Pleimann, was the coach for the Hickman boys’ team from 1992-97. He left Hickman to take a job with the Missouri State High School Activities Association, where he is the assistant executive director.

Payge Pleimann remembers shooting 107 in her first nine-hole round. Her brother Wayde Pleimann, 18, teased her about it, saying that someone should shoot a 107 on 22 holes, not nine.

Taylor Pleimann, 20, played on the varsity for four years at Hickman. She finished sixth in the state her senior year. She also set the school’s 18-hole record when she shot 75 at A.L. Gustin Golf Course to win the district meet.

She played one year at Southwest Missouri State University before leaving the school. She no longer plays competitively.

Taylor Pleimann introduced Payge Pleimann to the other girls on the team on the first day of tryouts. The scorecard Payge Pleimann keeps in her golf bag helped to calm her before her first match. Pleimann moves the scorecard every time she switches golf bags.

Taylor Pleimann didn’t know her sister had kept the scorecard until they played in a scramble tournament in August. Payge Pleimann pulled out the card during the round.

“I felt honored,” Taylor Pleimann said.

Taylor Pleimann’s success has given Payge Pleimann motivation in high school golf. They have a friendly competition over who has had more articles and pictures in the newspapers.

Payge Pleimann points out that as a junior, she is shooting better numbers than Taylor Pleimann did as a junior. Taylor Pleimann also never medaled in four straight matches.

Payge Pleimann said that she would let anyone on the team play at the No. 1 spot if they wanted to. For Pleimann, the respect of her teammates takes precedence.

“I guess all I’m thinking about with me being No. 1 is the girls know I’ve earned it,” Pleimann said.

It is that kind of confidence on the golf course that has helped her play well.


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