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Folsom golfer plays with PGA pro

By: Matt Long
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Folsom’s Briana Mao could have a bright future ahead of her in golf. The 17-year-old senior at St. Francis High is a golfing star, who has parlayed her skill into earning a spot in the First Tee Open the last two years, where the top 78 junior golfers from around the world are selected to play with a PGA professional at Pebble Beach. Last month Mao played with PGA pro Mark O’Meara for the second consecutive year. “It was great to be able to play in the tournament again this year,” Mao said. “Mark is really nice. Even though he’s playing in the tournament to win money, he took the time to talk with me and help me read putts. I kept in touch with him by e-mail throughout the year and got to play with him again this year. He’s like a new family friend.” Playing with a professional was a great experience, but playing at Pebble Beach, one of the top golf courses in the world, was also a big treat. “My first time down there I wasn’t really paying attention during my practice round,” Mao admitted. “I took a lot of pictures. It’s very beautiful. I was just taking in the moment. This year I focused a bit more. I think I had five birdies in my final round this year.” Though Mao attends St. Francis High in Sacramento, she’s lived in Folsom all her life and attended Carl Sundahl Elementary and Sutter Middle School. She’s helped lead St. Francis’s golf team to the state tournament the past two years where the team’s finished in the top-five both years. She hopes to help the team back to the tournament again this season. For her talents, Mao has earned a full golf scholarship to attend the University of Virginia. She plans to major in biology with the hopes to go to medical school later. “I really want to be a doctor,” Mao said. “If my golf game improves to the point where I might be good enough to play on the LPGA tour, I might do try that for a year, but I really want to go to med school and be a doctor. That’s my dream.”