Colorado team loses ground but remains in top 5 going into final round of Girls Junior Americas Cup at Hiwan
by Gary Baines
It was one of those days for the Coloradans at the Girls Junior Americas Cup — one of those which are all too common at the formidable test that is Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen.
After a strong first day at the event, the four Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado representatives at the GJAC didn’t make a single birdie on the first 11 holes of Thursday’s round and no one on the team broke 75 on day 2.
That did cost them two spots in the team standings, but they’re still in fifth place out of 18 teams in the prestigious event which features top junior golfers from the western U.S., Canada and Mexico.
To put that into perspective, if the Coloradans finish where they are after Friday’s final round, they’ll have the state’s best showing in the event since 2013, when the locals placed third.
On Thursday, Colorado shot 11 strokes higher than on day 1, posting a 20-over-par 230 for the round, which dropped them from third to fifth place, with a 449 total.
“I saw everyone” during the round, Hailey Schalk (above) of Erie said of her teammates. “They’re looking at me like, ‘It’s so bad.’
“This course is hard. You have to make birdies because you’re going to make a ton of bogeys. It’s just going to happen. It’s really hard to just make solid pars. And if you can get three birdies (in a round), that’s really good.”
Thursday’s performance leaves the Coloradans 19 strokes behind team-leading Mexico — a seven-time winner of the GJAC — but just six out of a third-place tie (Southern California and Southern Nevada).
“A good goal is to probably shoot 75-76 or below tomorrow — for all of us,” said Emma Bryant of Aurora, the reigning 5A state high school champion. “If we do that, I think we’d have a decent shot at top five or top three” in the final team standings. (Bryant is pictured at left with Colorado co-captain Jennifer Cassell.)
Individually on Thursday, Colorado counted a 5-over-par 75 by Schalk, a 77 by Lauren Lehigh of Loveland and a 78 by Bryant. Rounding out the local scores was an 81 by Kelsey Webster of Boulder, who struggled a day after firing a 70 and sharing second place.
“That was one of the weirdest and sloppiest rounds I think I’ve ever played,” said Webster, who is competing in her final junior event before starting on the University of Colorado golf team in the fall. “My swing was there (after round 1), but warming up on the range today something funky was happening. Something weird was happening at impact — which was so weird because I was hitting it so great yesterday. It took me about 14 holes to figure out what I was doing. I found out my stance was extremely narrow. I was swaying back and forth and it was causing the ball to go everywhere. I was in a lot of trees today and had a lot of chip-outs.”
“But I wouldn’t be surprised if I came out tomorrow and shot a really good number now that I’ve got it figured out. It was just one of those bizarre days.”
Still, three of the four Coloradans are tied for 11th place individually or better through two rounds. Schalk, the JGAC 2017 Girls Player of the Year who is competing in her third Junior Americas Cup, shares ninth place at 10-over-par 150. She made her lone birdie Thursday on the 18th hole, draining a 20-footer. And Lehigh and Webster share 11th place out of 72 golfers, at 151. Bryant, meanwhile, is 28th at 155.
Lehigh (left), for one, doesn’t see any reason why Colorado can’t make headway on Friday.
“There’s no pressure on us to go out here and win,” the 2017 4A state high school champion said. “With girls (in the field) who are top ranked in the world junior rankings, there’s no pressure on us at all. We just have to go out and play our game. We know we’re good enough. We’ll get to where we get to.”
Added Webster: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we came out and shot really good scores tomorrow.”
Cory Lopez of Mexico holds the individual lead by one through 36 holes after consecutive rounds of 70 left her at even-par 140.
Friday’s final-round tee times will run from 7 to 8:50 a.m. off both the first and 10th tees. The Coloradans will go off from 7:40 to 8:10 from No. 1. The closing ceremonies for the event will be held short after the conclusion of the round.
The 2018 Girls Junior Americas Cup is being conducted by the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado.
5. (out of 18 teams) Colorado 219-230–449
9. Hailey Schalk, Erie 75-75–150
11. Kelsey Webster, Boulder 70-81–151
11. Lauren Lehigh, Loveland 74-77–151
28. Emma Bryant, Aurora 77-78–155
For all the scores from the Girls Junior Americas Cup, CLICK HERE.