Freshman O’Sullivan, senior Guthrie have AHS girls golf back at state tournament
Brooke O’Sullivan carries herself like an experienced golfer. Her smooth swing and resilience on course matches that of players far her senior, and her leadership off the course is of someone who’s seen and done a lot with the sport.
In reality, she’s merely a freshman on the Aspen High School girls golf team and hardly has any significant tournament experience at all.
“I just realized that the people around me were super excited once I was starting to achieve things in golf and it gave me a lot more motivation to put time and effort into it,” O’Sullivan said. “As the season progressed, my attitude changed to, ‘OK, I’ll do this for fun, but now I want to see how good I can actually get at the sport.’”
O’Sullivan is one of two AHS golfers, along with senior Tessa Guthrie, who will compete Monday and Tuesday in the Class 3A girls state golf championship, played at Elmwood Golf Course in Pueblo. Senior Amanda Simeone also is on deck for the Skiers as an alternate should a spot open up.
For all three, this will be a new experience getting to compete at state. The 2020 golf season was canceled because of the pandemic, and neither of the seniors were quite ready for the stage as sophomores. And, of course, O’Sullivan was only in the seventh grade the last time a high school season occurred.
“I look at this as such a great opportunity for the experience. To be a leader in the future and also for her own game,” AHS golf coach Shannon Worth said of O’Sullivan. “People are so impressed with her and she has such a great swing and we all kind of forget this is really her first season of playing tournament golf, and she’s turning in some good scores.”
O’Sullivan qualified for the state tournament by shooting 89 and finishing fourth at regionals on June 10 at Cattails Golf Club in Alamosa, the most significant tournament she’s played in to date. What stands out the most about her regional performance was the first hole, where she posted a nine on the par 4 and seemed out of it from the start.
“She is not the kind of kid who loses her composure,” AHS assistant coach Kate Korn said. “She might be a little internally frustrated, but you never really see her upset with herself or exhibit any sort of anger.”
O’Sullivan settled down from there, shooting 48 on the front nine, and really turned it up on the back nine. She made par four times over a five-hole stretch and even birdied hole No. 17 to shoot 41 on the backside and finish only two strokes shy of tying for second place.
“Overall I played pretty well. In the practice round I shot 82, so I’m happy with how I finished out on that course,” O’Sullivan said of regionals. “I didn’t have any expectations going into the season, but as the season progressed it seemed a lot more realistic that I be able to make it to states, and it’s super exciting. I’m happy I’ve gotten this far.”
O’Sullivan pointed to the May 11 tournament at Rifle Creek as a turning point in her season. She shot 91 that day to win by 14 strokes and this led to a consistent stretch of top-five finishes the rest of the season.
O’Sullivan doesn’t know what to expect from state, but just wants to take it in stride and get the experience. For her coaches, seeing her struggle at times is hardly a negative as those instances provide the biggest learning moments, and O’Sullivan has proven willing to embrace it all, birdies and bogeys alike.
“It’s so important to remember those moments are when you do get better. Right now it is about her getting experience,” Worth said. “Even those little moments are going to be what gets her to the next level for the future.”
Seniors bid adieu
Guthrie shot 104 at regionals to finish eighth and earn a spot in the state tournament. She is following in her sister’s footsteps, as Zoe Guthrie was a mainstay for the team through her senior year in 2019.
Like O’Sullivan, Tessa Guthrie really only started taking golf seriously this spring.
“I improved a lot this year. I really started to get serious about golf and this was actually my first year competing individually and I was super proud of myself to continually bring down my scores,” she said. “We didn’t really ever play together, but it was cool to see Zoe really work hard and really get into the sport.”
Tessa Guthrie said her goal at state this week is to break 100 one of the two rounds.
“There was one day on the range this spring where we were working together and something clicked with her and you could see the spark sort of hit her,” Korn said of Guthrie. “She just had a different level of commitment from there on and she had this belief in herself that she was a good player and she could do this and she was going to work for it.”
O’Sullivan and Guthrie are scheduled to play in back-to-back groups starting on the 10th hole at Elmwood. O’Sullivan tees off at 9:39 a.m. on Monday, while Guthrie is in the 9:48 a.m. grouping.
While Simeone is unlikely to actually compete, her commitment to the sport and to the team was worth more than a state championship to her coaches.
“She really led the team with commitment and the values of golf that we try to teach, the life lessons,” Worth said. “She is really solid as a human being and as part of this team.”
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