Once she got home from the golf course, Alyson Sor needed to take a seat and have a moment to herself. She hasn’t even started her sophomore year at Wilson High School yet, but the talented young golfer was already forced to stop and reflect on her accomplishments.
“I just thought about all the work I’ve put in and how far I’ve come,” Sor said.
Her hard work brought her to a Moore League individual title as a freshman in 2019, and this summer she’s been dominating on the PGA Southern California Junior Tour. Sor has won three tournaments since the end of May, including back-to-back tournament wins in the prestigious Toyota Tour Cup (TTC).
First, she won the TTC event at Industry Hills with a 2-under 70 in the final round; the only player in the entire field to break par. Two weeks later, Sor survived a two-hole playoff to secure the win at the TTC Twin Oaks in San Marcos, Calif.
“When you put them back-to-back like that, it says a ton about your character and belief,” said Dave Heinen, golf pro at Recreation Park Golf Course and Sor’s personal swing instructor. “She’s stepping onto the tee knowing she’s one of the best players in the field every week.”
The wins have also come against some top quality competition. The Toyota Cup Tour events are among the most prestigious PGA Junior Tour events in Southern California, with players needing to play qualifying rounds just to earn a spot in the field. Wilson girls’ golf coach Kurt Holmes put some perspective on winning not just one of these events, but two in a row.
“It’s almost unheard of,” he said. “It’s a really competitive field to play in. It’s a big deal … A lot of our finest players have all played in the Toyota Tour Cup. It’s usually a stepping stone for collegiate players.”
Sor’s advantage over her competitors begins in the tee box, where she generates above-average distance on her drives.
“What makes her special as a player is her distance,” said Holmes. “When she hits the ball, it sounds like the boys team. She really hits it hard. She’s a small girl, but very fit, very athletic and has amazing coordination. All the things a golfer needs, she’s got it in spades.”
Sor says that the recent improvements in her game have come from an increase in mental focus, which has translated into her short game. She’s always had the ability to out-drive her opponents off the tee, but her game has been more well-rounded this summer as she’s improved around the green. Sor credits her mental coach, Kevin Sverduk, with helping her achieve the improvements in her short game and add more confidence on the golf course.
Even with her improved self-confidence and focus, Sor admits she has still been impressed by her own accomplishments.
“I was shocked. I was like ‘Wow, I really won two in a row,’” she admitted. “But I knew I could do it, I just had to put my focus onto it and trust myself.”
Due to the pandemic, Sor has really been able to spend a lot of time playing golf without many other distractions. As she says, it’s the one thing she can do to get outside, and the results have followed. As she prepares to enter into her sophomore year of high school, Wilson golf fans should be excited about her future within the program.
“She’s always been an 11 on talent, so that’s never been the issue,” said Heinen, who has coached Sor since she was eight years old. “It’s always been about putting 18 holes together for more than one day. Her tendency is to rush when things aren’t going well, so being able to find her focus has been the biggest key … She’s really dedicated herself to developing a higher level of focus when she’s in tournaments. She’s finally realized she belongs, and not only does she belong, but she’s one of the best players out there. Maybe one of the best players in the country.
“I think Aly could definitely play at a high-level Division I university and could put Long Beach on the map as far as professional golfers in the future, because there haven’t been too many girls as athletic as her that have come along.”
As she closed out her most recent victory at Twin Oaks, Sor was in a close battle with two other players and needed a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff. As she stood over her ball, she felt the importance of the moment come over her. But that’s when her strong mentality and focus took over.
“I was trying not to focus on the other players and just tried to focus on my game,” she explained. “I just make sure that I take deep breaths, that I’m taking my time when I’m walking and going through my routine, and remember that I have to go one stroke at a time.”
Sor will be back on the golf course this weekend looking for her third consecutive tournament victory, playing in the Future Champions Golf event at The Vineyards at Escondido. If recent results are any indication, there’s a decent chance she’ll be sitting atop the leaderboard again, possibly in need of another moment to stop and reflect.
Photo courtesy Alyson Sor