Calea Hall Salinas High enjoys a weekend in the spotlight – Monterey Herald & More News

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

SALINAS – Battling the flu this past weekend helped calm her down and calm her nerves, calming Kaleia Hall as she prepares to play golf at the national arena.

A hoarse voice and some fatigue did not prevent Hall from getting her hair done, perhaps the most important moment in her sports life.

“A few highlights,” Hall said.

Over 1,000 First Tee teens across the country applied for a unique moment in their lives to play alongside partner PGA Tour Champions.

A total of 75 people have been selected for the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach this weekend, with the Salinas High Senior starting on Friday.

“Honestly, I can’t compare it to anything,” Hall, 17, said. “This is a whole new level. It’s on TV. I compete with and against the pros. It’s stunning.”

Hall will be paired with PGA Tour veteran Steve Flash as they play Pebble Beach Golf Links on Friday and Spyglass Hill Golf Course on Saturday, hoping to reach the final round on Sunday.

“I want to try to understand who he is,” Hall said. “Does he communicate a little more? I’ll take his brain and learn everything I can from him. But I don’t want to annoy him.”

A Cincinnati native, Flesh joined the PGA Tour in 1990, winning 10 professional tournaments in his career, finishing fifth in the 2008 Masters Tournament. He joined the PGA Tour Champions in 2017.

Last fall, as a junior, he played golf in the Gabilan division and was also a member of the high school swim team. For the past two years, Hall has been the top golfer at Salinas High.

“She took the lead,” Salinas High golf coach Alan Takemura said of Hall, who was also qualified for the inaugural Tiger Woods Tournament in October at The Hay in Pebble Beach. “She accepts it. She is a talker.

The focus now is on living up to her own expectations of introducing the First Tee program she has been a part of since she was 6 years old.

“The program has done so much for me, it’s crazy,” Hall said. “It made me who I am. She taught me so many lessons that I apply in my life. It made me realize that I can be who I am today.”

The selection process for the event was tedious, and the application process, according to Hall, was similar to applying to a college or taking a major exam.

“I won’t lie to you, it was intense,” Hall said. “I had to answer several questions in a short amount of time. There were essay questions. The interview was the most stressful part.”

Perhaps all her emotions and energy went into the application process. Because being chosen was a great relief, not a celebration.

“This is finally starting to hit the mark,” Hall said. “Maybe when I’m actually there, on the track – what’s really going on, it’ll get to me.”

The nervous tension that Hall feels in her stomach usually doesn’t show until she steps on the first hole. It doesn’t take long for her to realize that this is not a high school golf game.

“She cares, that’s for sure,” Takemura said. “I know that she is nervous without even telling me about it. She makes sure everything goes well. It’s in her DNA. She demands a lot of herself.”

While neither Pebble Beach nor Spyglass Hill is alien to Hall, what will test her mental makeup is being able to play 54 holes in three days. Most set-up matches consist of nine holes – 18 for the tournament.

“I have a slight advantage because I know what’s going on at Spyglass,” Hall said. “When I played Pebble it was more about the experience. I didn’t focus on the green or the fairways.”

Hall is aware of the opportunities the event could potentially provide. She is friends with last year’s tournament winner, Stevenson alumnus and current Bryant University golfer Sidney Craven.

“I worked with Sidney over the summer,” Hall said. “She told me to make the most of it with your pro. You never know who he knows and what he might do for you in the future.”

The tournament is also getting some pressure due to what Craven did last fall by teaming with his professional partner Tim Petrovich to claim the Pro-Junior Team title.

“I saw the interview Sidney did last year,” Hall said. “So I feel a little pressure. I need to let it slide off of me and do what I do, use my abilities and make the most of it.”

Hall, who has a desire to play golf or swim in college, also approaches it as a mental challenge as she deals with distractions by playing in front of a crowd.

“It would be nice to test how mentally strong I can be,” Hall said. “It’s more than experience. Playing this has always been a dream. It’s going to be pretty surreal.”

Salinas High’s Kalea Hall will partner with PGA Tour Champions pro Steve Flesh this weekend at Pebble Beach. (Courtesy of Kalea Hall)

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