Walla trails 6 strokes in state title hunt
Aspen High’s Kristin Walla needs a big, big round today.
Walla shot a 4-over par 76 Monday in the Class 4A girls golf state championship at Gypsum’s Cotton Ranch. It was good enough to tie three other top guns for second place in the standings, but not enough to hang with Mullen’s Ashley Tait, who shot a women’s course-record 70 to lead the state title race into the second day of the 36-hole affair.
“I putted really bad,” said Walla. “I only got up and down once, and I only had one birdie. With 36 putts, that’s pretty much my deficit.”
Conditions, Walla reported in a telephone interview, were ideal ” sunny, warm and no wind to speak of.
“Everything’s good except the greens. But I guess that’s not good either, because that’s the most important part. The green’s are sandy and slow and it makes it tough to roll the ball in the hole, because you just can’t predict it. But it’s not impossible either. You’ve just got to have a little luck, hit the ball well and keep stroking good,” Walla said.
Tait, a senior, is the defending Class 4A state champ. Walla, also a senior, tied for fourth last year, her third year as a top-10 finisher at the state championship.
“I only hit my driver three times today,” said Walla. “It’s a major lay up-type course off the tee. I only missed two fairways and I hit 13 greens, so I felt like my irons had finally come around and I was playing consistently. I just couldn’t make the par putts when I needed ’em, and I couldn’t capitalize on any chances I took.”
And that sets up today’s second and final round. Walla realizes she will need to summon something special to derail Tait, let alone the other players sitting in the second position six strokes back.
“I’m definitely going to have to shoot a low number [today] to win, and just hope that Ashley doesn’t shoot a career-round or anything,” said Walla.
“The nerves weren’t too bad [Monday]. The first couple holes I was nervous, but I got over it. I think I’ll be way more nervous [today].
“I’ll just try and stay confident and remember it’s only a game. It’d definitely be awesome to win and all that, but I’m sure I’ll be nervous no matter what. But I feel like I’ve got the whole community pulling for me, all my teachers are rooting for me, so hopefully I can pull it off for everyone else,” Walla continued.
“This course can promote some unpredictable things. There’s a lot of tricky holes ” if the wind picks up, anything can happen. But at six strokes, I just hope I don’t do anything that’s going to make it un-fun. I just want to have a good time and play well ” whatever that is.”
Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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The third weekend of play begins Thursday and runs through Sunday with the Bantam B, Squirt A and Squirt B divisions. Because of safety protocols, spectators aren’t allowed.