FIRESTONE — In her time with Fairview golf, Kelly Moran became known for her clockwork-like consistency on the fairways and greens. This week new graduate demonstrated how she earned her stalwart reputation.
Moran captured the CWGA Junior Stroke Play Championship on Wednesday behind three rock-solid rounds of golf that weathered some red-hot games. She led the field of 36 every day at Saddleback Golf Club, but she was at her best on her final loop.
The Knights’ long-time No. 1 maintained her winning margin with one of the day’s three below-par rounds. But given some of the shots she left on the course, Wednesday carded better than it played from her perspective.
“Today was my most frustrating day actually,” Moran said. “I was driving well, which were setting up wedge shots into the green. But I had so many 10-foot birdie shots that just did not fall. But given the results you can’t complain too much.”
The College of William & Mary recruit finished 2-under in her final round at the par-72 course and 2-over for the tournament. And her rock-bottom score manifested itself at the right time. It was a tooth-and-nail fight for the championship’s crystal cup.
Columbine’s Jaylee Tait and Legacy’s Sarah Hankins were hot on Moran’s heels Wednesday, each also shooting 2-under for the day. But Moran’s earlier work, where she shot a 74 in each of the opening two rounds, was enough to sustain her winning margin. In the end, she beat Tait by two strokes and Hankins by four.
Moran’s finish was satisfying given the tight race, but was made sweeter due to how she concluded her high school career. The Knights ace and her team endured a disappointing run at the Class 5A state championship, in a year both believed they were bound for the top.
“This is definitely redemption for state,” said Moran, who finished third in the 2012 stroke play championship. “State was not what I hoped it to be or what a lot of other people hoped it would be.”
Pulling in two groups before Moran, Hankins was optimistic about her chances at the title and she had every right to be. The soon-to-be Legacy senior had a career-best round Wednesday, improving her previous personal-best score by one stroke. And Hankins could feel it was going to be a spectacular day from the minute she teed up at Saddleback.
“Coming on to the course today I felt like I was ready to take it on,” she said. “I was making putts like there was not tomorrow. I was making short putts, I was making long putts, it really didn’t matter where it was on the green I was pretty confident it was going to go in.”
Even though her 18 holes did not earn her the championship, Hankins was not disappointed given her round. And she was pleased that it was her perennial Front Range League opponent that edged her out.
“Kelly and I are great friends, I wouldn’t want to lose to anyone else,” said Hankins, who placed third at the 5A state championship.
Megan McCambridge was the other top local finisher at the tournament with the Fairview golfer winning the first flight. And similar to the others, the Butler University prospect came on strong in her final round.
McCambridge finished Wednesday shooting 1-over to card a 20-over for the tournament. It was Tuesday that cost the graduated senior her shot at the championship flight with a few bad holes putting her at 12-over.
“The second round did take some pressure off me, though,” she said. “I relaxed a little bit today. I told myself to go out and have fun.”
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CWGA Junior Stroke Play Championship
At Saddleback G.C., par 72
Championship Flight — Kelly Moran, Boulder CC, 218 (74-74-70); Jaylee Tait, Raccoon Creek GC, 220 (75-75-70); Sarah Hankins, Thorncreek GC, 222 (75-77-70); Samantha Barker, Perry Park CC, 228 (74-73-78); Gillian Vance, Red Rocks CC, 228 (74-75-79); Sydney Gillespie, Highlands Ranch GC, 230 (74-78-78); Mary Weinstein, Green Valley Ranch GC, 235 (74-82-79); Kylee Sullivan, CC of Colorado, 235 (80-73-82); Sydney Merchant, Red Rocks CC, 237 (80-78-79).
First Flight — Megan McCambridge, Boulder CC, 236 (79-84-73); Joanna Kempton, Lone Tree GC, 239 (79-83-77); Madison Tenney, Common Grounds GC, 240 (83-78-79); Andrea Ballou, Red Hawk Ridge GC, 242 (82-82-78); Dlaney Benson, South Suburban Family Sports, 243 (80-84-79); Jennifer Hankins, Thorncreek GC, 243 (77-85-81); Dani Urman, Meridian GC, 243 (79-81-83); Adara Puluhn, Lake Valley GC, 244 (80-84-80); Hannah More, Pinehurst CC, 246 (83-79-84).
Second Flight — Morgan Sahm, Saddle Rock GC, 235 (86-73-76); Jenni Chun, Lone Tree GC, 245 (87-80-78); Margot Leibold, Inverness GC, 249 (88-81-80); Jacquelin Biggs, South Suburban Family Sports, 251 (88-77-86); Ashlyn Kirschner, West Woods GC, 252 (88-79-85); Delaney Elliott, Coal Creek, 253 (88-86-79); Heather Kroll-Schoonover, The Club at Rolling Hills, 260 (86-90-84); Mariah Ehrman, Omin Interlocken Resort, 266 (87-89-90); Julia Kim, South Suburban Family Sports, 268 (87-90-91).
Third Flight — Katherine Kemp, Broadmoor GC, 249 (91-78-80); Morgan Stacks, Thorncreek, 258 (91-80-87); Emilee Strausburg, The Club at Rolling Hills, 264 (90-88-86); Courtney Ewing, Desert Hawk, 268 (94087-87); Natasha Brandy McClain, Denver CC, 269 (92-88-89); Madison McCambridge, Boulder CC, 278 (93-92-93); Andrea Hoos, Broadlands GC, 280 (94-98-88);Duval Sutherland, South Suburban Family Sports, 298 (95-104-99); Julia Baroth, Common Grounds GC, 307 (105-101-101).