4A girls golf preview: Home of Glenwood freshman has view of 4A state tournament
CLASS 4A State GIRLS GOLF Championships
Site: River Valley Ranch Golf Club, Carbondale
When: Today and Tuesday. First tee-off time is at 8:30 a.m. today.
Who’s here: The top 84 girls golfers from around Colorado attending schools with enrollments of 1,254 and lower.
What’s at stake: The Class 4A individual and team state championship.
Individuals to watch: Jennifer Kupcho, Jefferson Academy (defending state champion); Kiselya Plewe, Dolores (Western Slope Regional champion).
Local players to watch: Lauren Murphy, Glenwood Springs; Elly Walters, Rifle; Melissa Steinbach, Coal Ridge.
Teams to watch: Cheyenne Mountain (defending state champion); Montrose (Western Slope Regional champion, second-place finisher at state in 2014).
Weather forecast: High temperatures between 60 and 70 with 60 percent chance of rain and thunder showers today and Tuesday (National Weather Service).
Live scoring: http://www.iwanamaker.com.
Live Updates: Sports Editor Jon Mitchell will also provide updates via Twitter. Follow him at @JonMitchellPI.
CARBONDALE — Lauren Murphy isn’t afraid to admit that, from time to time, she ducks out of her house at night to play the 17th hole of River Valley Ranch Golf Club. And she brings her family along.
“We have a game where we pick one club, go out after dark and play the hole with that one club,” she said with a big smile. “It’s super fun.”
The Par 5 17th hole at RVR is pretty accessible to the Murphy family, whose backyard sits near the middle of the fairway. That said, it would be easy to assume that Murphy, a freshman playing for Glenwood Springs High School who attends Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, would know the course inside and out.
“You’d think that I’d play RVR an awful lot,” she said. “Actually, Aspen Glen is more like my home course. I’ve only played RVR, like, eight times I think.”
Those eight times, however, are still more than most people playing at RVR today and Tuesday. Murphy will try to use that to her advantage when she’s among the field of 84 golfers from around Colorado who are playing the Class 4A State Championships.
Murphy, however, realizes just as much as anyone in the field that knowing the course alone doesn’t help lower scores.
“It does give me an advantage to know the course better than most of the girls who will be playing out here,” Murphy said. “But if I can’t execute the shots that I want to hit, knowing the course really doesn’t help me at all.”
Aspen High School will be the host school when tournament play begins at 8:30 a.m. today on the 5,198-yard course that offers views of Mount Sopris from the first to final tee. Garfield County golfers who will be joining Murphy include Rifle High freshman Elly Walters and Coal Ridge High senior Melissa Steinbach.
Murphy didn’t get into the tournament just because the golf course was practically in her backyard. She might even be considered a contender for the individual title, as she’s finished either first or second in every tournament she played in this season until two weeks ago when she was fourth at the Western Slope Regional at Cobble Creek Golf Course in Montrose.
One of those finishes came during the Aspen Invitational on April 24, when she finished second individually to Kiselya Plewe of Dolores on a windy, rainy day at RVR. Weather forecasts are calling for mild temperatures with rain showers likely on both days.
The chance of rain could play into what makes the course so unique. With plenty of sand and water hazards throughout the course, it’s a course that rewards accuracy. That’s a stark contrast to the 2014 state tournament played at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs, where long fairways throughout the course shifted scores in favor of heavy hitters out of the tee box.
Walters could almost be considered a darkhorse contender for the tournament title. She’s claimed medalist honors four times this season and has a golf pedigree: Her older sister, Taylor, plays for Colorado Mesa University’s women’s golf team.
Returning to the field is defending state champion Jennifer Kupcho of Jefferson Academy, who will have the final tee-off time off of hole No. 1 at 10:27 a.m. She’ll be paired with Plewe, who shot a 4-over 76 in those miserable conditions at the Aspen Invitational to finish with an 11-stroke victory over the second-place Murphy.
Among the teams returning to the state tournament are Montrose, last year’s second-place finisher. Defending state champion Cheyenne Mountain is back but with three new players from last year’s team.
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