Hayasaki's trying to loosen up her game

Hayasaki's trying to loosen up her game

CHAMPAIGN — Normally, the wheels start spinning in Champaign Central golfer Mia Hayasaki's head as she approaches the final few holes of a round that's going well, although her level demeanor makes it difficult for even her father, Yoshi, to tell what she's thinking.

"I'm thinking about the score that I have and I'm trying so hard to keep that score that I tense up," the Maroons' senior said. "I might be trying so hard to keep that score that my body is restricted and I'm just being really conservative with my swing."

That approach has caused her to tail off at the end of several rounds, costing her vital strokes.

At the Big 12 meet on Sept. 25, though, that wasn't the case.

After triple-bogeying the first hole of the back nine and bogeying another, Hayasaki loosened up. Over the last four holes, she made two pars and two birdies. She wound up finishing second with a score of 76.

"I was really proud of myself for that," she said. "I wasn't thinking about trying to keep my score. I was trying to do better. I think that helped me."

Consistency, both mentally and physically, has been Hayasaki's focus throughout the summer and fall.

Working with her father during the season, the two decided to simplify her swing. Instead of taking big chops, she's making more controlled strokes. That resulted in a strong summer, in which she won a Prep Tour event with rounds of 76 and 73.

This season, though, the two-time News-Gazette girls' golfer of the year has struggled at times to maintain that swing throughout an entire match.

"I think it's trying to make sure that every shot she takes is consistent," her father said. "Golf, it takes a lot of the same rhythm no matter where you are. Obviously after walking 14 holes, you get a little fatigued, a little tired. You may change that swing slightly. That's what she's been working hard on, to make sure she can maintain that rhythm, maintain that good swing throughout."

Hayasaki's scores, though, have been fairly consistent, even if they're not quite as low as she hopes her postseason scores are. She'll get the first chance to tee off in the postseason on Wednesday when she and the rest of the Maroons take part in the Class 2A Mattoon Regional. Before hitting a 76 at the Big 12 meet, her scores ranged from 37 to 41 in her previous four nine-hole rounds.

"I know I can do better," Hayasaki said. "I know my rounds can be even par. ... With some of those rounds (this year), I could feel myself getting tired. With the rounds in regionals and sectionals, we'll get more rest and be more prepared for those."

A year ago, Hayasaki showed herself she could be among the top golfers in the state by following up a disappointing first 18-hole round with the fifth-best second round at the state tournament.

This year, a more self-assured and consistent Hayasaki thinks she can improve on that 30th-place finish from 2016.

"I realized I was at some of their levels," she said. "This year, I can go into state with more confidence in myself."