Bailey Plourde of Lincoln Academy spent Thanksgiving weekend playing in an International Junior Golf Tour event at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

She hadn’t played since winning the state schoolgirl championship more than a month earlier so she was a little rusty. She was also playing with a pulled right quadricep. Playing a difficult course, she shot 95, 87, 93.

Back in October, Plourde was in top form. She captured the girls’ state championship with an impressive 2-under 70 in windy conditions at Natanis Golf Course. Her score bested 41 other girls, including defending champion Hashilla Rivai of Thornton Academy and runner-up Erin Holmes of Greely. Holmes shot a 74 while Rivai had a 77.

For her performance and strong regular-season play, Plourde is our girls’ golfer of the year.

“I definitely feel good about my game,” said Plourde while traveling to Florida. “I feel I’m improving. Winning the schoolgirl championship was a good confidence builder. That was my best career round.”

Plourde looks to play in outside tournaments against top competition whenever possible because she knows that’s the way to improve. In the last two years, Plourde said she has added 15 yards to her tee shots.

“My short game has been off and on but I’m constantly working on it,” she said.

Plourde, a junior, played the No. 1 slot on her team and was unbeaten. She had a 37 stroke average in nine-hole matches.

As a freshman, she tied for first in the girls’ championship. Last year she shot 75 to finish second to Rivai.

In this year’s championship, she made four birdies. She was good at focusing on her game.

Improving the mental part of her game is something she has worked on. Of her winning performance at Natanis, Plourde said: “My putting felt really good. Even if I didn’t hit it close, I felt I had a chance of making the putt.”

Plourde has played in three straight Women’s Maine State Amateurs, finishing fourth this summer. Such tournaments have helped shape her game. That, along with taking lessons and spending plenty of time on the range, has hastened her improvement.

“I feel what sets Bailey’s game apart from others her age are her attitude and determination to play better golf,” said Lincoln Academy Coach Todd Brackett.

“When you couple that, and her natural ability and feel for the game with her playing an aggressive schedule of competitive golf all year, you can begin to understand the level of improvement Bailey displayed this season. Equally important is her positive attitude, humility and focus, all of which have contributed to her growth and success.”

Plourde’s grandparents bought her first set of clubs when she was 5.

“My grandparents and my father got me started in golf,” said Plourde.

A Maine Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Helen Plourd of Rockland, also helped Plourde with her game.

“She’s been my biggest mentor,” said Plourde. “I was at a Midcoast Junior tournament when I started to play and Helen took an interest in my game.”

Plourde wants to keep improving so that by this time next year she’ll have a chance to play in college. Rivai just signed a letter of intent to play golf at Purdue. Plourde would like a similar opportunity.

Sunday Telegram All-State Team

Bailey Plourde, Lincoln Academy junior: Plourde is the Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ golfer of the year. She played No. 1 for the Eagles and captured the girls’ state title with a 70.

Hashilla Rivai, Thornton Academy senior: Rivai, a repeat All-State pick, won the schoolgirl title as a junior and was third this year. She was the team’s No. 1 player the last two years. She will play golf at Purdue.

Billy Rollins, Messalonskee senior: Rollins shot a 75 to finish third in the Class A individual tournament. He had a 39.5 stroke average during the season and was the No. 1 player for the Eagles the last three years.

Logan Thompson, Mattanawcook sophomore: Thompson captured the Class C individual title for the second straight year, shooting a 77. A week earlier he shot a 78 to help the Lynx win the Class C team title. He is a repeat All-State selection.

Coach of the Year

Jeff Camire, Thornton Academy: Camire guided the Golden Trojans to their first Class A state title since 2009.