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Aimua plays golf at home

Andriel Aimua talks with her father and caddy Christopher Aimua during a U.S. Women's Amateur Section Qualifying round at Prestwick Golf Club on July 6. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Andriel Aimua rolls a putt to the hole during a July 6 tournament at Prestwick Golf Club. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
East Ridge graduate Andriel Aimua watches a shot off the tee box on a par-three hole during a U.S. Women's Amateur Section Qualifying round at Prestwick Golf Club on July 6. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

Some people might find relief in playing a tournament at a familiar golf course.

But for East Ridge graduate Andriel Aimua, playing in a U.S. Women's Amateur Sectional Qualifying tournament at her former home course Prestwick Golf Club on July 6 did not end up being much of an advantage.

Aimua tied for 14th in the tournament after shooting a five-over-par round of 77 on a muggy day in Woodbury. She ended up five shots back of qualifying for the U.S. Women's Amateur, as two of the four qualifiers and the two alternates from the sectional finished with rounds of 73.

The medalist, Stanford golfer Sierra Kersten of Spokane, Wash., carded a two-under-par round of 70. The tournament's field primarily included college golfers.

Aimua has played Prestwick, the home course for the East Ridge golf teams, many times during her high school career. The 2014 East Ridge graduate tied for 25th at the MSHSL state tournament among Class 3A golfers her senior year.

But on July 6, she did not see much of a benefit.

"Whenever her balls are straight, they are straight," said Aimua's dad and tournament caddy, Christopher Aimua. "It doesn't matter whether it was Prestwick, whether it was Hillcrest. It doesn't matter."

Aimua started her day by scoring three-over-par after the first nine holes. A double-bogey on No. 16 dropped her back to a low score of six-over, but she was determined to get one back against par before her day was over. She birdied No. 18 to finish five-over-par.

The final hole included a chip shot from nearly out of bounds through a gap in a group of trees, with the ball landing about 10-feet away from the hole.

"I had kind of a rough start, so I'm actually pretty glad with how I was able to bounce back and finish off with a birdie," she said.

Aimua was happy to have her father by her side during the U.S. Women's Amateur qualifying round. The Woodbury resident said it is rare to not have her father by her side on the golf course.

"He is my big cheerleader, my biggest fan of all time," Aimua said. "He loves me dearly. He follows me to like every tournament."

Aimua's pursuit of golf has taken her across the country since she started her college career with the Concordia-St. Paul women's golf team. She soon decided to pursue golf in a warmer climate than Minnesota, where players often spend winters inside domed driving ranges.

"I pretty much just wanted to play in a warmer area," Aimua said. "My dad was like, you're too good to be having a break six months into training, and then all of a sudden be like, well, you've got to start over."

Aimua played junior college golf with Seminole State College of Florida the past two seasons. The move paid off, and this spring, Aimua signed a national letter of intent to play with the Division I Charleston Southern University women's golf team.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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