Hilts lifts Mesa to win in invite

Colorado Mesa’s Jennifer Hilts makes a 10-foot putt for a birdie Tuesday on No. 1 at Tiara Rado Golf Course.

Golfers never hit every shot the way they want.

It’s how you handle those that don’t go your way that makes the difference.

“It’s more about how good your misses are when you do miss the ball,” Jennifer Hilts said Tuesday after winning the Maverick Spring Invitational women’s golf tournament at Tiara Rado Golf Course.

The Colorado Mesa University senior edged her teammate and fellow senior Jessica Berve by two shots, shooting a second-round 78 for a 154 total. Berve shot 76 and finished at 156. Their 1-2 finish led CMU to the team title in the three-team event.

“My misses are pretty decent; they’re not terrible,” Hilts said. “I can get out of trouble a lot easier than my freshman and sophomore year. My misses have definitely gotten better.”

Case in point: On 18, she went right, to where she was blocked from the gallery’s view by trees and brush. Out came her approach, which she landed on the green. She left a long putt just short, but tapped it in for the two-stroke win. She glanced up at her teammates and playfully swept her hand across her forehead — ‘phew!’

The course at Tiara Rado is greening up, but it’s still a little dry, which had balls rolling farther than golfers expected.

“We were getting some weird kicks,” Hilts said. “Everybody had a little trouble judging how far it was going to roll after it hit.”

Hilts, though, has played Tiara Rado enough to know how to get around the course, and she hit enough putts to score. She was the only golfer to card two rounds in the 70s, and it gave Hilts her first tournament title of the spring. She won the Grizzy Invitational in Alamosa in the fall, again shooting two rounds in the 70s.

“I was hitting the ball really well but putting was key,” she said. “I saved a couple of really good pars and a couple of good bogeys. It could have gotten a lot worse if I hadn’t done that.”

The tournament was the final one of the regular season — the golfers play in the RMAC championships April 16-17 at Wigwam Golf Club in Litchfield Park, Ariz., where they played only last week.

Hilts struggled there, shooting her high round of the season (90) in the first round, but winning Tuesday has her in a good frame of mind.

“Being a senior, even though it’s not a big tournament, it feels good to win,” she said. “I"m glad we got to play this tournament before the RMAC championships, a little more practice and get some scores in.”

Hilts has her sights set on a return trip to the national championships, where she finished 47th last season.

“It would be really nice to get there as a team, but if not, send a couple of individuals like last year and get some experience,” she said.

Berve won the RMAC championship last spring, and she and Hilts have traded spots on the leader board all season.

“We’re both pretty consistent,” Hilts said. “I’ll beat her one tournament, she’ll beat me the next, we’ll tie. I only beat her by two shots, so it’s not like I ran away with anything. It’s nice to have one-two (in the tournament). It’s competitive, but it’s a good competitive. We don’t get hostile or anything.”

Afton Balling tied for fifth Tuesday with a second-round 81 for a 163; Alisa Lindsay and Michelle Stripp tied for 10th at 173. The Mavs won the team title by 20 strokes over CSU-Pueblo.

Hilts was 1-under-par “for awhile” on the front nine, got a couple of bad bounces but scrambled pretty well, she said. On the back, things were just going her way.

“I started hitting it really well and aiming it and it would go right where I wanted it,” she said. “I still had a few bogeys, but I was hitting the ball really well. I had a feeling I would shoot some good scores this tournament.

“You just try to beat the course and if you beat people along the way, then that’s great.”


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