PALM COAST – Alexandra Gazzoli said not much has changed for her in the past nine months, but that’s selling herself a little short.
Since capturing the 2A state title in November, becoming the first Matanzas golfer to do so, Gazzoli has committed to State of Floridawon the Florida State Golf Association’s Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship and improved “a lot” this summer.
It could cause problems for the rest of the state.
Now she returns for her senior season and looks to defend her crown. It feels like her first three years, she said, with one important difference.
“Now that I won,” Gazzoli said, “it’s like, oh, I know I can.”
Gazzoli finished third at the state meet as a freshman and second as a sophomore before finally grabbing the gold last fall. She shot a 140, finishing the two-day tournament at 2-under par and as the Volusia-Flagler area’s lone champion in 2022.
Soon after, she chose Florida State — where her father, uncle and two older brothers studied — over programs like Georgia and Oklahoma State.
“There were several factors,” Gazzoli said. “I grew up as a fan, so it’s fun. But I took my time and wanted to keep an open mind for all those schools. It was actually harder than I thought it would be, but the coaches and the facilities and just their program overall and my emotional bond made me choose them.”
Then, in July, she claimed her first FSGA championship. She fired a 2-under 214 across three rounds in Naples and survived a playoff against Oklahoma State golfer Jacqui Putrino.
“The track was in good shape,” Gazzoli said. “Overall it was just really fun. I enjoyed being there. It was a really great experience to play against great competition and be able to win.”
Her success stemmed from hard work since she first swung a club at age 2. Her training routine spans nearly every single day. She starts with her short game around the practice green and then goes through her bag on the driving range, often alone.
Hitting the long balls is her favorite part of the sport.
She also trains with swing coach Anne Cain.
But her biggest adjustment over the past three years might not be her 10-foot putts or 5-iron shots, said her head coach at Matanzas.
“When she first started on the team and she made a mistake, you could see the frustration and you knew she had made a mistake and everyone around her knew it,” Brandie Alred said. “Not so much that it was over the top like she didn’t throw clubs. It was never, ever, ever a thing.
“But now, if she hits a bad shot, you’d have no idea. Or if she hits a good shot, you’d have no idea what she should be like.”
That, and she’s grown from a quiet novice to a team leader.
This year’s Pirates bring back everyone from their 2022 district championship lineup except Emma Markese, who graduated. Last year, Gazzoli was Matanzas’ sole representative at that state convention.
She wants the Pirates to qualify as a team during her senior campaign, where she leads the charge.
FOOTBALL ROUNDUP: Volusia-Flagler scoring from Week 1
“It’s been so much fun just telling people,” Alred said of Gazzoli’s success last week. “We were right on hole four and some people came right through. They said, ‘Oh, we’re watching her play.’ I thought, “Watch this girl play.”
“I just talk about her all the time because I don’t think if you’re in the golf community, you know, but if you’re not necessarily in the golf community, that we have such a superstar here in Palm Coast.”
At least one final year and, if all goes according to plan, one final run at the state tournament.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: High school golf: Alexandra Gazzoli looks to defend state championship