[Larry W. Kane for Shaw Media]
"I just knew that I have to show up," Natividad said, "because other girls are going to show up. I can't just come in here thinking I've been to state three times, it will be a breeze because I've been to state because it's not like that. There a lot of good girls here and I could have easily been beat. I had to show up and I did."
Did she ever.
Natividad fired a 4-over par 76 at Silver Lake Country Club in Orland Park. It was good for third place overall at the Class 2A Sandburg Sectional, and qualified Natividad for state for the fourth straight year.
Natividad, who revamped her swing going into the season, has now posted two straight rounds in the 70s in the postseason. She shot a 75 to win regionals.
"I think I'm just playing better," Natividad said. "My short game is a lot tighter. Pretty much better all around."
Natividad finished behind only Sandburg's Athena Kwon (73) and Naperville North's Hannah Martin (74). Oswego co-op senior Summer Hawkins also advanced to this weekend's state tournament at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur with a 78.
Naperville North (317) was the team sectional champion. Yorkville (373) was ninth and Oswego co-op (378) 11th.
Natividad started her round a bit slow, bogeying two holes on the front nine. But she played well on the back nine and was strong around the greens.
"I didn't make a lot of mistakes, I didn't miss an up and down. I was fighting for it because I knew I had to," Natividad said. "Every hole I got up and down. Knowing that even if I missed a green I could save par was a good feeling."
She had only played the course, in colder and windier conditions, but it hardly fazed her.
"How you play depends on your game that day, not the golf course," Natividad said. "I knew that I had to bring my best today, because of the girls here."