Rifle golfer blows away field at Grand Valley Invite
PARACHUTE — Alyx Carter was so excited after her round of golf at the Grand Valley Invitational on Monday, she started calling family members to brag about it.
“I shot a 79!” the Rifle High School senior beamed over the phone to her grandpa.
It was a career-best score for Carter, who qualified for the 4A state tournament last season. And it was also good enough to earn her a convincing victory in the eight-team tournament at Battlement Mesa Golf Course.
“I’ve been working really hard on, well, basically everything,” Carter said. “But today, what made a difference was how I hit the ball. I didn’t hit the ball exceptionally well, because there were definitely a few strokes that I’d like back. But overall, I was hitting them really thin.
“They weren’t as solid as I would have liked, but it worked out, I guess,” Carter continued with an ear-to-ear grin.
Her performance nearly gave the Bears the team championship, too. Grand Junction Central, paced by a second-place score of 87 posted by Sam Medina, finished with a winning score of 295. Rifle finished just two strokes back at 297, with Eagle Valley (313) and Coal Ridge (317) following.
Carter had chances to fall behind in the early parts of the tournament, but she found a way to get herself out of trouble several times on the front nine. Her scariest moment came early on the second hole, when her tee shot landed her behind a tree, but the approach shot she took with a 7-wood landed just 5 feet from the hole to set her up for one of her two birdies on the day.
Another came on the par-5 seventh hole, when her tee shot landed right in the middle of a bunker on the right side of the fairway. Her second shot couldn’t have gone any better, though, landing within a foot of the fringe at the front of the green.
“It wasn’t on purpose,” Carter said, sheepishly. “I was trying to get more sand, but I didn’t even make a scuff mark in the pit. I hit the ball that thin.”
She did end up with a double bogey on the hole, but she later came back with a birdie on the 17th hole to finish with a back-nine 38 — three strokes better than her score on the front nine.
Finishing third individually was Coal Ridge’s Melissa Steinbach, a two-time state qualifier who carded a final score of 88 to finish just one stroke behind Medina. She, like Carter, made an improvement on the back nine after some tough shots on the front. Steinbach’s improvements were much more dramatic, however, with her back-nine score of 40 netting an eight-stroke improvement on her front-nine score.
“I think I just focused more,” Steinbach said. “I got a lot more pars, and I was able to get rid of the stupid shots that I was taking on the front nine.”
Emily Neuroth also had some tough holes on the front nine, especially the par-3 eighth hole where she finished with score of 8. The Rifle junior, however, recovered enough to card a 95, which was good enough for a fifth-place individual finish.
Leah Kanakaraj finished with a 101 for Coal Ridge and Jori Dovey shot a 107 to pace host Grand Valley. The Glenwood Springs Demons, whose two golfers weren’t enough to tally a team score, were led by the 107 carded by Audrey Jones. Her teammate, Kylie Fleming, finished with a 119.
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