Freshman Megan Welch came off the course upset, fixating on two 6-foot putts she missed during the round.

“She was very frustrated about it,” said Dennis Dawson, Welch’s coach for the Lakeville North girls’ golf team. “That’s all she could think about.

“That night, she didn’t go to bed until she made 100 6-footers.”

Never mind that Welch had just shot a season-best 71 at the difficult Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis., or that she had just cruised to medalist honors in the nine-team event on May 13.

She’s not focused on the results. It’s all about improvement.

“There are always ways to get better,” Welch said. “That’s kind of a nice thing about this sport, that there are always things to work on. So, you just focus on those little things and try to be the best golfer you can be.”

Added her coach, “And she’s a pretty darn good player already.”

Welch is ranked fifth in the most recent Class 3A Minnesota Golf Coaches Association individual rankings. She has five individual victories on the season, including the tournament at Troy Burne and the Class 3A, Section 1 title, which she wrapped up Monday at Cannon Golf Club with a two-day total of 158.

She will be among the favorites in the Class 3A state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Bunker Hills Golf Course.

Her team didn’t have quite the same luck, though. Despite sweeping all four South Suburban Conference events this spring — good for the team’s second consecutive league title — Lakeville North missed a repeat trip to state, losing to Winona on a fifth-score tiebreaker, Dawson said. Panthers junior Brianna Vetter also qualified for state individually.

It was a disappointing finish to the team’s season, but the section tournament still serves as the highlight so far to her year individually, Welch said.

“That was probably the one that felt like the biggest accomplishment,” Welch said of the section title. “It was a big, two-day tournament, and there was a lot of pressure coming down the stretch.”

Although Welch is only a freshman, her success has been a long time coming. She first picked up a club at age 5, and began taking lessons and playing competitively the following year. She’s been hooked ever since.

“I just love the game,” she said. “It’s so different from other sports, and because it takes five hours for a tournament, you really get to know the people you play with. It’s a lot of fun.”

This is Welch’s third season playing for Lakeville North, and Dawson said he’s seen marked improvement in her game from a year ago. Standing 5-5, Welch said she’s not one of the longer hitters. She has been able to grind out scores due to her sharp short game, which she spent countless hours grooming over this past winter on a putting green her father built in the family’s basement.

She will play a full slate of tournaments this summer, traveling for a handful of national, American Junior Golf Association events. But for now, she’s focused on the state tournament.

After Welch finished 18th as an eighth-grader, Dawson said her goal this year is for a top-five finish.

“Lofty for a freshman,” Dawson said, but he doesn’t have any doubts she’s capable. After all, she’s put in the work.

“If all it took to be [successful in golf] was hard work and desire, I’d never bet against her,” he said.