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  • Val T.

Bailey shoots 74, Thomas 89 at girls golf state finals

Bailey drains 3 birdies on front nine, is within 6 shots of lead


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Rochester’s Olivia Bailey watches her competitors after putting out on the 18th green at the first round of the IHSAA state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel Friday. Bailey shot a 74 and is tied for sixth in a field of 108 golfers. She will start Saturday six strokes behind leader Samantha Brown of Westfield.

CARMEL — On a day with little to no wind at Prairie View Golf Club, Rochester sophomore Olivia Bailey blew away most of the field at the IHSAA girls golf state finals and is in contention for state medalist honors going into the final round Saturday.

Meanwhile, her teammate Ava Thomas persevered through illness in her state finals debut.

Bailey finished with a 2-over-par 74 and is tied for sixth place after one round. She trails leader Samantha Brown from Westfield by six strokes.

Brown’s 68 was the only under-par round in the field.

“It was really exciting,” Bailey said. “I was aiming just around 78. I had never played this course in competition before. This is only my third time ever playing it so, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, but I am excited I got to shoot a good score.”

Thomas shot an 89 and is in a tie for 63rd place in the field of 108 golfers.

Thomas said she was “a little bit” sick but said she did not think her illness affected her score. She said her round was frustrating, but she was just happy to be there.

“The weather was really nice,” Thomas said. “I didn’t think the wind played a lot into the game. The greens were hard to hit anyway because they were so small. … It’s harder to putt up or down the plateau, specifically down, because you want to land on the same shelf so you have a flat putt, and there’s a lot of break involved if you don’t land on the right shelf.”

Thomas was asked if that was what she struggled with. Instead, she cited the length of the course.

“Not really,” she said. “I struggled to get there. … I think it was just a lot longer distances than I was used to, and I kept missing greens.”

Rochester coach Chad Thomas, who followed Ava throughout her round while Bailey played simultaneously on a different nine, thought Ava’s illness affected her more than she did.

Rochester’s Ava Thomas tees off on No. 9 during the first round of the IHSAA state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel Friday. Thomas shot an 89 and is tied for 63rd place in a field of 108 golfers.

“She is not 100 percent, and I think it zapped her strength, but she battled through it and did the best she can, but she’s doesn’t feel 100 percent,” coach Thomas said. “She’s battling something. I hate it, but you’ve got to play through some things. … She never complained during the round about it, but I know it was bringing her down some.”

Coach Thomas and assistant coach Dan Bailey, who advised Olivia during her round, agreed the course played longer than its listed 5,611 yards.

Instead of the typical wedge approach shot, it was not uncommon for Olivia and Ava to hit a 7-iron or even a hybrid club from the fairway.

Coach Thomas also said the bunkers are “strategically placed” and keep scores from going low.

“They’ve had a ton of rain down here this week,” coach Thomas said. “Some of the balls speed-wise you would think would roll out a little bit more weren’t rolling out as much as she anticipated. On a few of the holes, you have to hit it to the correct level because if not, you’re going to have a tough putt.”

Bailey avoided bunkers on the left side and sunk a 15-foot putt for birdie on No. 1. It was the longest putt she made on the day, and she also had birdies on the par-5 seventh hole and the par-4 ninth. She also bogeyed Nos. 6 and 8 for a 35 on the opening nine for a 35.

On the back nine, she bogeyed No. 11, followed with four straight pars and then bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 before a sand save for par on the par-5 18th.

“The back nine’s just hard,” assistant coach Dan Bailey, who advised Olivia during her round, said. “The greens on the back nine are smaller, and the areas where you can miss it are smaller, and the penalty for missing them is smaller. She was hitting her irons really well on the front nine and exactly where she was trying to hit them. On the back nine, she lost a little bit of that consistency, that ball striking.”

Bailey had a birdie and three pars on the four par-5s on the course.

“My irons were pretty good up until the end,” Olivia said. “So those really helped me out a lot.”

Bailey said the greens were firm and fast and have a lot of hills to them, which makes them hard to read.

“I putted pretty well today, so that was good,” Olivia said. “Just getting your first putt at good speeds, so your second putt is easier and just making sure that your speed is really good. That’s the main part.”

Coach Bailey said the main benefit from the practice round was figuring out how to attack the greens and their different shelves.

“I think that was really helpful because especially early in the round, she hit it on the greens where she was wanting to hit it,” coach Bailey said. “So having a good plan from the practice round really helped.”

However, coach Bailey said the conditions of the greens changed once the sun came out later in the round.

“Four or five holes in, after the moisture burnt off the greens a little bit, they got quite a bit faster,” coach Bailey said. “And we had some difficulty adjusting to that. I think on the day, she had three three-putts, and it was just speed-related. They didn't come early but after the greens dried out a little bit, she ran a couple putts five or six feet past the hole.”

Olivia Bailey said she’s not going to try to change her strategy to try and make up a six-stroke deficit.

“I think I’m just going to play the same round I did today,” Olivia said. “I’m not super worried about the competition. I just want to come out and have some fun and try and shoot a good score.”

IHSAA GIRLS GOLF STATE FINALS

at Prairie View Golf Club, Carmel, Friday (first round, par 72)

TOP INDIVIDUALS

1. Samantha Brown (Westfield) – 68, t-2. Ava South (Batesville) – 73, t-2. Karilyn Teglia (Culver Academy) – 73, t-2. Michaela Headlee (Carmel) – 73, t-2. Addi Kooi (Westfield) – 73, T-6. OLIVIA BAILEY (ROCHESTER) – 74, t-6. Ashley Kirkland (Castle) – 74, t-6. Josie Kelley (Noblesville) – 74, 9. Claire Swathwood (Carmel) – 75, t-10. Abbey Peterson (Warsaw) – 76, t-10. Eliza Saal (Homestead) – 76, t-10. Lexi Stuart (Center Grove) – 76, t-10. Paige Giovenco (Floyd Central) – 76, t-10. Taylor Larkins (Carroll (Fort Wayne)) – 76, T-63. AVA THOMAS (ROCHESTER) – 89

TEAM STANDINGS

Westfield 306, Carmel 307, Homestead 313, Noblesville 315, Center Grove 325, Franklin Community 330, Floyd Central 333, Zionsville 334, Penn 336, Carroll (Fort Wayne) 343, Northridge 353, Kankakee Valley 366, Bedford North Lawrence 375, Jasper 375, Terre Haute South 381, New Palestine 383, Chesterton 393, Hamilton Southeastern (incomplete team)


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