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  • Val T.

‘It was a really good experience overall:’ Bailey ties for 26th, Thomas ties for 60th at state final


Sports Editor, RTC

Rochester’s Olivia Bailey and Ava Thomas competed at the IHSAA state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel Friday and Saturday. Bailey shot a 159 and tied for 26th place, and Thomas shot a 175 and tied for 60th. From left – assistant coach Dan Bailey, Olivia Bailey, Ava Thomas, coach Chad Thomas.

CARMEL — When it was over, Olivia Bailey and Ava Thomas shared a warm hug on a warm day. In that hug they shared their frustrations and fatigue after a long two days.

The Rochester golfers and best friends both finished in the top 60 at the IHSAA state finals at Prairie View Golf Club Friday and Saturday.

Rochester sophomore Olivia Bailey chips out of the rough on No. 18 during the second round of the IHSAA state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel Saturday. Bailey bogeyed the hole and finished with a 13-over-par 85. She tied for 26th place in a field of 105 golfers.

Bailey, a sophomore, shot rounds of 74 and 85 for a two-day total 15-over-par 159 and finished in a tie for 26th in a field of 108 golfers. Thomas, a junior, shot rounds of 89 and 86 for a 175 and finished in a tie for 60th.

Bailey started Saturday’s final round with two pars and a birdie.

However, she bogeyed No. 4, triple-bogeyed No. 5, bogeyed No. 6, had three straight double bogeys from Nos. 7-9 and had back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 10-11. She birdied the par-3 12th hole thanks to a well-placed 9-iron off the tee before bogeys on Nos. 15 and 18.

She began her day six strokes off the lead and finished 17 back.

Thomas started on the back nine, and like Bailey, she birdied No. 12, her third hole of the day, and she was just 1-over par through five holes. The birdie on No. 12, though, turned out to be her only birdie of the tournament.

She bogeyed Nos. 15-17 and played the front nine 9-over-par.

Still, Thomas improved her placing from a tie for 63rd place at the start of the day.

The tournament was played in sunny, dry conditions, and wind was rarely a factor.

“My mentality just went way down,” Bailey said. “It wasn’t very good. I just couldn’t come back from my bad shots, and my bad shots put me in a lot of bad situations, so when I got some really high scores, that put me down until I birdied (number 12), which is when I came back out of it.”

Said Rochester assistant coach Dan Bailey, who followed and advised Olivia during her round: “She was putting a lot of pressure on herself.”

Her other birdie came on No. 3, where she drained an eight-foot putt after hitting her wedge on her approach shot on a par-5.

“She actually hit her drive significantly left into the trees and got a really good break, got just past the last tree enough that she could put a swing on it and then hit a really good hybrid to recover right to about the 100-yard marker and then that was a perfect yardage for her, and she took advantage of it,” coach Bailey said. “Those perfect yardages make it so you don’t have to think about anything. You just make a normal swing. To her credit, when she got those today, she made pretty good swings.”

Olivia Bailey thought she putted well despite the fast greens. She also said the course had a lot of bunkers, but she said the fairways were forgiving in that she could get a lot of roll from an accurate tee shot.

“It sure dried out and became really difficult today,” coach Bailey said. “The greens were probably a foot faster than yesterday if not a little more than that. … The fairways are really wide and generous, but the greens all sit at weird angles, and they’ve got different tiers, so missing the greens is really difficult to get up and down. And even if you hit it on the wrong side of the green, it’s a really difficult two-putt. So I would say the green complexes make it the most difficult part.”

Rochester junior Ava Thomas hits an iron shot from the fairway on No. 8 at the IHSAA state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel Saturday. Thomas bogeyed the hole as part of an 86. She shot a 175 for the two rounds and finished in a tie for 60th place.

Thomas had something of an epic bogey on No. 12 in Friday’s first round. She hit her first shot out of bounds, took a penalty drop and eventually made a 30-foot putt.

This time, she got a birdie on a putt somewhere between 10 and 15 feet. Like Bailey, she set it up with a 9-iron off the tee.

“That was really good redemption because I bogeyed it yesterday because I hit it in the hazard,” Thomas said.

Coach Chad Thomas, who followed and advised Ava during her round, noticed the good putts on No. 12 both days.

“Maybe she just needs to putt on that hole all the time,” she said. “It was nice. I told her, ‘Hey, you can say you made a birdie at the state finals.’ That was fun.”

It was the front nine, which happened to be Thomas’ final nine, that slowed her momentum.

“My front nine was horrendous,” Thomas said. “I started off OK with a bogey and then I had a par and a par, and I just kind of lost it, I guess. It was like I lost my focus. I just wasn’t playing how I had started. … It was very frustrating. … I was frustrated at myself for the way I was playing, and it was just getting worse.”

Coach Thomas noticed Ava getting frustrated.

“On hole five, she had a perfect tee shot, had a good approach shot, got on the green and had a three-putt,” coach Thomas said. “She really let it affect her, and then she had some trouble coming in and had some trouble on (hole) nine and didn’t finish the way she wanted to finish, but I’m still proud of her. Very, very proud of her.”

Thomas said the higher scores than she would like did not detract from the experience.

“It was a really great experience overall,” Thomas said. “Other than having some bad scores, it was good.”

Thomas said the course, which was listed at 5,611 yards, played long. She also quipped that she found “every bunker on the course” during Friday’s first round.

“It’s a very long course the way we played it, obviously because it’s the state finals,” Thomas said. “I think there’s not too much trouble with trees as much as there is tall grass and sand and water.”

Coach Thomas also noticed the greens being faster.

“Coming in on her second nine, she was just too aggressive on a few putts,” he said. “She kind of lost her feel there. Because she was lagging it pretty good and lost the feel, and you can’t do that out here.”

Westfield’s Samantha Brown won state medalist honors with a 142, beating the field of 105 golfers by four strokes. Carmel won the team title with a 608. Westfield, which led after the first round, was second with a 617.


at Prairie View Golf Club, Carmel, Friday-Saturday (36 holes, par 72)


1. Samantha Brown (Westfield) – 142, t-2. Ava South (Batesville) – 146, t-2. Ashley Kirkland (Castle) – 146, t-2. Michaela Headlee (Carmel) – 146, t-2. Addi Kooi (Westfield) – 146, t-6. Claire Swathwood (Carmel) – 149, t-6. Paige Giovenco (Floyd Central) – 149, t-8. Lynne Zheng (Culver Academy) – 150, t-8. Scarlett Senk (Homestead) – 150, t-10. Josie Kelley (Noblesville) – 151, t-10. Abbey Peterson (Warsaw) – 151, t-10. Karilyn Teglia (Culver Academy) – 151, t-26. Olivia Bailey (Rochester) – (74-85) 159, T-60. AVA THOMAS (ROCHESTER) – (89-86) 175


Carmel 608, Westfield 617, Homestead 622, Noblesville 635, Center Grove 642, Floyd Central 653, Penn 662, Franklin Community 667, Zionsville 673, Carroll (Fort Wayne) 674, Hamilton Southeastern 686, Northridge 699, Kankakee Valley 729, Bedford North Lawrence 744, New Palestine 757, Jasper 762, Terre Haute South 765, Chesterton 808

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