Walla wins biggest tourney yet
Aspen’s Kristin Walla didn’t have her best game yesterday, but after two course-record-setting rounds Tuesday and Wednesday, she didn’t need it.Walla, a 17-year-old Aspen High School senior, shot a 7-over-par 79 Thursday to win the 54-hole Colorado Women’s Golf Association Junior Stroke Play Championship at the Eaton Country Club.With a three-day total of 218, Walla finished one stroke ahead of Estes Park’s Dawn Shockley and three strokes ahead of Ashley Tait of Mullen in third.Walla and Tait, the two-time defending Class 4A state high school champ and the 2003 CWGA Stroke Play Champion, blitzed the course on Tuesday with 2-under rounds of 70, tying the 22-year-old women’s course record.
The next day, Walla did one better, shooting a career-low 69 to pull three strokes ahead of Tait.Playing together in the final pairing yesterday, Tait and Walla shot matching 79s, while Shockley carded a 72 to come within one of Walla.At the 2004 Class 4A high school tournament, a 36-hole event, Walla finished fourth, behind Tait, the champ, and Shockley in third.Asked whether the victory was her biggest yet, Walla replied, “Definitely.”You wouldn’t think it’s as big as the high school state tournament, because there’s fewer spectators and media, but it’s the same caliber field and the scores prove it,” she said. “And the fact that it’s a three-day tournament makes it that much more difficult.”
Walla’s dazzling scores the first two days came as somewhat of a shock, even to the usually unflappable Walla.”The first round, I was knocking everything in within 20 feet of the hole. A miraculous putting day. And the second day, the shots just kept coming for me. I chipped out of a bunker for eagle, and then I went birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie.”It’s really nerve-wracking to get it going that well. It’s hard to convince yourself that you can keep playing that way.”The torrid pace fell off Thursday.
“I was off my short game totally, so I just sort of scrounged around for a 79,” she said.Still, it wasn’t a bad three days’ work.”I’ve had 71s at 1 over par before, and even par 72s, but to shoot 70 one day to tie the course record and then a 69 to beat that, that felt pretty cool,” she said.”I just got a new putter last week actually, and it’s working really well,” Walla continued, chuckling.
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