• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Abigail Caine, 7, is set to take on the world

ABIGAIL CAINE, 7, carefully lines up a putt under the watchful eyes of her dad, Bill Caine. (Photo by Gretchen Caine)

Abigail Caine is only 7-years old, but she is already taking the golf world by storm. While she has only been playing golf for about a year-and-a-half, and has only been competing in U.S. Kid’s Golf since February, Abigail’s already racked up 18 wins in the 21 tournaments that she’s competed in. In those other three, she’s finished second. One of her biggest wins to date happened Thursday and Friday, July 21 and 22, in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour Championships at Keene Trace Golf Club. There she shot a 61 (12 holes combined) to win the Girls 9 & Under Division. This coming week, Thursday to Saturday, Aug. 4 to 6, she will compete in an even bigger tournament – the U.S. Kids World Golf Championships at Pinehurst, N.C. So, how did Abigail get interested in golf at such an early age? Well, it started because of some competition with her 5-year-old brother, Cooper. “My brother first started it (playing golf) and then I didn’t want him to get better than me, so I just started golfing,” said Abigail during an interview at the Woodford Sun offices accompanied by her dad, Bill, and Cooper. “And then he stopped after like two weeks.” While her brother might have stopped, Abigail kept on playing and under the watchful eye of her father, Bill, and the guidance of her teacher, Moss Hill Golf Club pro Joseph Barr, she has just gotten better and better. In fact, between her first “official” win in February, when she shot a 67, to a recent second-place finish in a tournament in Florida where she shot a 42, Abigail’s shaved 25 strokes of her score. As for her first win, it came in a junior invitational at Moss Hill that she played for fun. The course was four holes and she won the event by over 20 strokes. For kids Abigail’s age, the “course” is adjusted for their abilities. They play between six and nine holes and the yardage is shorter. For example, a par 4 might be 210 yards, a par 5 might be 285 yards, and a par 3 might be 85 years, but, as was the case at the Kentucky PGA event, the par 3 was all carried over water. Having said that, Abigail favors a longer course because her biggest strength is her hitting. “Hitting it harder than everyone,” she said with a smile. Sometimes, she says, it takes other players a few shots to get up to the distance she hits her tee shot. While hitting is her strength, other parts of her game are also coming along the more she plays. “The reason I think she won the Kentucky PGA tournament was because her iron work was phenomenal,” said Bill. “There was one (hole) where all the moms and dads were up on the hill and, according to my GPS, she was 68 yards out, and she put it two-inches from the pin.” One of Abigail’s other strengths is her competitiveness – she hates to lose. “I’ve only lost three,” she said, shaking her head no. Still, as previously mentioned, she’s never finished worse than second. Along with her accomplishments have come numerous commendations. She’s received letters from Gov. Matt Bevin, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and, on Tuesday, July 19, she was honored by Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and the city council for her achievements in golf. In addition, they declared, Thursday, Aug. 4, the first day of the U.S. Kids World Golf Championships as “Abigail Caine Day” in Versailles. So, with all her success, her dad has heard the talk about she might be getting pushed too hard at such an early age. So, how do they keep everything in perspective? “The thing about it is that she’s got her own internal engine that winds her up,” said Bill. “(I’ll ask), ‘Do you want to play today? Yes or no?’ If she says no, we don’t talk about it again. The next day we’ll see. Most of the time, we get a yes.” And, according to Abigail, “If I say no, I always ask to go to a fun place.” Places like the pool, Monkey Joes, or, as Cooper chimes in, “Malibu Jacks!” “Every kid’s different,” said Bill. “She’s the same way at school. She comes home and if she got one spelling word wrong on a test, she’s devastated and she’s going to work harder to make sure the next time she’s not. That’s who she is.” Still, with all of her success, her parents can’t do much more than shake their heads and count their blessings. “She goes out and she’s a complete pit bull on the golf course. When it’s over, she’s a little kid, she wants to play with dolls, and she wants to play with her friends,” said Bill. “(In one tournament), she’s playing against a girl who she’s tied with for first place in this tournament … and, they’re holding hands skipping down the fairway. They’re battling (in the tournament), but they’re holding hand skipping down the fairway. … So, the innocence is still there. We’re very thankful for that.”

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