Alyaa Abdulghany on a course for success
There are many inner battles Alyaa Abdulghany takes on as she pursues a career in golf. There's a struggle to be a high-achieving student while being a phenomenal athlete.
As she is in her senior year at Corona del Mar High, she does her best to lead a "normal" life.
However, that desire can never really be met when her talent is considered. She's one of the best in the nation.
With constant practice and training to refine her game, she admits golf is her life. Still, there's that belief that she can be just another 17-year-old living in Newport Beach.
"I make sure I have a very balanced lifestyle," she says with regard to her golf schedule. "Sometimes I'll take a couple of days off. I like reading and listening to music. I'm pretty much an average teenager."
On the CdM girls' golf team, and at school, Abdulghany is well-liked, known for her kind and sweet personality. On the golf course, she's feisty. For the past six years she's been on a path to play college golf. When she committed to USC, she wanted to start early.
That's right, her current senior year might've never been.
And, so the story goes...
Abdulghany was set to enter a home-school program this school year, her mother, Rohaya, said, so that she could enroll at USC in the spring. Rohaya's mom let it be known she wanted to see her granddaughter graduate from high school at CdM.
"My husband's side of the family was like, 'You go for it, Alyaa,'" Rohaya said. "I told her, 'I don't have anything else, I have my memories, but if you like it and you're ready, go do it.'"
With mom's blessing, Abdulghany went with her plan to be in a home-school program, accelerate her senior year and start at USC a semester early. But then, Alyaa, the only child of Rohaya and Abdul, changed her mind.
"Two days before registration at CdM was about to end," Rohaya said. "Alyaa said, 'Mommy, a semester early doesn't really make a difference. I can go through high school just like it was my senior year.'"
Abdulghany says her parents are her strongest supporters and the reason she's had so much success in her young career, which includes a CIF State championship and being named to the U.S. team for the Junior Ryder Cup.
It's always been the three for the Abdulghany family, Abdul, Rohaya and Alyaa. They lived in Malaysia until Alyaa turned 6, when her father's work brought her to the U.S., Newport Beach.
Alyaa quickly fell in love with Orange County. She had been in an international school from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, complete with indoor activities. Alyaa enjoyed being outside and took to skateboarding among other sports, her mother said.
During high school, Mom always warned that college would be a different lifestyle.
"Don't grow up too fast," Rohaya would say.
Abdulghany now wants to finish at CdM, and she returned for her final season on the girls' golf team. CdM Coach Mike Starkweather was grateful to have her back. Starkweather, 67, who has been coaching CdM girls' golf for 24 years, says she's the best to ever play for the Sea Kings.
Abdulghany began with an amazing performance, setting a course record at El Niguel Country Club last week. She shot eight-under-par 28 as the medalist. She opened her round with a birdie, then a par, then seven straight birdies.
"I wasn't even surprised; I'm almost used to it because she is so good all the time," said Gabby Finear, a CdM senior. "She makes it look so easy, always stays calm, never seems to be under pressure."
Rohaya says when her daughter is relaxed that's when she's at her best. Abdulghany will try to find that comfort zone when she plays in the Junior Ryder Cup Sept. 26-27 at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn.
She leaves for Minnesota on Sept. 21. She shared medalist honors on Thursday at Costa Mesa Country Club in CdM's Battle of the Bay win over Newport Harbor. A reporter from the Orange County Register requested another time to interview her before she leaves to compete for Team USA.
Abdulghany suggested she can usually be found at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine.
The reporter also asked if he could email her with questions during the Junior Ryder Cup.
"I won't respond immediately," she said, trying for a courteous tone.
Abdulghany will be busy. She may think she's just an average teenager, but that's far from the truth.
"Every golfer wants to win but I think for me I want to do my best no matter what," she says. "I try to beat myself in a game. I put my standards very high for myself and I do my best to meet them."
Born: April 2, 1999
Hometown: Newport Beach
Coach: Mike Starkweather
Favorite food: Japanese and Korean
Favorite movie: "Mulan"
Favorite athletic moment: "I've been a part of some great teams and I think that's the highlight."
Week in review: Abdulghany shot eigth-under-par 28 to set a course and school record as the medalist in CdM's season-opening win at El Niguel Country Club on Aug. 31.
This article was written by Steve Virgen from Daily Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.