BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — Courtney Dye can check several goals off her senior wish list.
The Traverse City Central golfer wanted to win the Big North Conference.
Check. She went undefeated in five league tournaments and then won the Big North championship at Treetops last week by 12 strokes.
She wanted to win a tournament outside the league.
Check. She won the Tullymore Invitational on Monday with a birdie on her final hole.
She wanted to shoot in the 70s.
Check. She's averaged 77.2 in 13 tournaments this season, 75.6 in the league. She shot a one-under par 71 at Alpena last month. Altogether, she's earned a medal in all 13 tournaments with seven first-place finishes and two seconds to her credit.
"I worked a lot on my game through the winter, spring and summer and it's paid off for me," Dye said.
So much so that Dye's been able to lower her average by five strokes from a year ago, going from an 82 to a 77. The four-year varsity player averaged 91 as a freshman, 86 as a sophomore.
"Every time she goes out, she amazes me," Central coach Lois McManus said. "She's pretty special."
Dye, 17, will lead the Trojans into next Thursday's Division 2 regional at the Flint Elks. Central, currently ranked No. 9 in the state, will be seeking its first regional crown in 12 years.
"We haven't seen any of the teams in our regional other than Alpena and Petoskey," McManus said. "It will be very interesting."
The top three teams advance to the state finals. Central, which has qualified for the state finals in 14 of the 15 years with McManus as coach, finished 10th at the state meet a year ago. Dye tied for seventh individually despite playing with a shoulder injury.
McManus said Dye's continued improvement can be traced to more consistent outings.
"Her consistency and her competitiveness have driven her to where she is now," the coach said. "She's very serious about this game. She practices as hard as she can, just like she was a playing a tournament.
"She's so focused. She knows what she needs to do every shot. And nothing seems to rile her. She keeps her composure. Her composure and temperament on the golf course is exactly what you would want it to be."
Dye has worked with Grand Traverse Resort and Spa's Scott Hebert, one of most successful professionals in the state.
During the summer, she was named Player of the Year in the girls division in the Traverse City Junior Golf Association and the statewide Junior PGA.
"It was a fun summer," she said. "It seems like I was gone every week for a golf tournament."
Dye competed against some of the state's top high school players, as well as collegiate players, in the Junior PGA.
"I got used to the competitive environment pretty quick," she said.
That success has carried over into her high school season. McManus believes Dye will be in the top five at states.
"She has the ability and skills to do that," McManus said.
"I just want to play my best," Dye added. "I know I have it in me."
First, though, comes the regional.
"Everybody expects us to win," Dye said. "Lois keeps telling us it's the end of the season so now is the time to show everybody what you've got."