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Sparkman High’s Clara Tran, right, shows off her first place medal alongside her team partner Ellie Cothran after the twosome won the Southeastern Cup in the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation’s event held in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Photo Contributed

Sparkman’s Clara Tran Wins Team Southeastern Cup Golf Championship; 15-Year Old Won Title With Partner Ellie Cothran

HARVEST- Sparkman High sophomore Clara Tran braved the cold snap of unusual below average weather conditions in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and teamed up with fellow sophomore Ellie Cothran of Brindley Mountain High in Marshall County to win the 15-16-year old division of the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation’s Southeastern Cup. The girls teamed together to win their division by five shots over the runner-up team in the Jan. 8-9 competition.

“We kept each other in mental shape throughout our two rounds of play as during our rounds we talked to each other,” said Tran, 15.

The two golfers shot rounds of 73 and 74 over the two courses, which make up the Barefoot Resort and Golf Club. The round of 73 came on the Love Course while the second round of 74 was posted on the Norman Course. Both courses are par 72 layouts. The format for the competition was “Shamble Best Ball,” where the best drive from the tee on each hole set up where both players would play their own ball through the hole.

“In the first round I helped set up some good shots for both Ellie and me as I hit some good drives on most of the holes,” added Tran after their posting a three-shot lead after the opening 18 holes. “In the second round, our opponents started off with birdies on the first two holes so Ellie and I talked about keeping a level head as we played on.”

In that second round, a birdie on the fourth hole would be their only sub-par score for the day, but it was one that helped calm their nerves and keep their momentum to a two over score of 74. Tran explained how the perfect-timing birdie came about.

“Ellie and I were close to the same line on the green after our approach shots and I putted first just to try give Ellie a good line on her putt,” said Tran. “The putt was uphill with a big left to right break. I hit the putt and it just went in the hole.”

Cothran is the defending Class 1-3A state champion among high schools in Alabama. In 2021, she won the Sectional by 25 strokes and then vaulted to the state title by three shots. She and Tran met about five years ago in the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation program, which Cothran’s father, Chris Cothran, helps function in North Alabama. The longtime college coach hooked up with the program six years ago and he assists many players in their golf games with personal coaching. Cothran and her father play out of Cherokee Ridge Country Club located just south of Huntsville.

“I believe I’ve helped Clara with the consistency of her swing and better understand the game as she approaches each shot,” said Chris Cothran on his coaching of Tran.

“Coach Cothran got me to get more ball height as I was working to gain more yardage out of my shots,” said Tran, who plays Taylor Made clubs. “I have gained more distance and accuracy. I have certainly noticed a change in my game.”

Tran was an ice skater and team sport participant with much success, but chose to try a new sport at the insistence of her father, Hugh Tran. She chose golf and soon became a two-time winner in the Drive, Chip and Putt contest. In the classroom, Tran has a 4.625 grade point average.

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