Palisade's Shuman wins opener
Lauren Murphy doesn’t allow opponents much room for error.
The Glenwood Springs sophomore made that clear a year ago during a freshman girls golf campaign that concluded with a sixth-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament.
That’s why Aly Shuman’s putt for bogey on hole No. 17 Monday at Chipeta Golf Course was so important.
The Palisade junior didn’t know whether she led by a stroke, trailed by a stroke or was even with Murphy. Whatever the score was, she needed to make the 6-foot, downhill putt she described as “kinda slippery” to have any chance to win the season-opening Chipeta Kickoff Classic.
She drained the putt, and by not giving another stroke back to Murphy, Shuman positioned herself to win a tournament for the first time in her high school career. When both parred No. 18, Shuman had her win, although she didn’t know it yet.
Shuman told Palisade coach Jan Norell she thought she was a stroke behind Murphy, but when the scorecards were added up, Shuman had shot a 66 on the par-60 executive course. Murphy shot a 67.
Progress in golf is measured in milestones, such as breaking 100 for the first time, then 90, then 80. And, of course, that first tournament win.
It was important for Shuman, a two-time state qualifier, to know the feeling of victory in a field that included someone as good as Murphy.
“She’s a great competitor,” Shuman said. “Just being able to compete with her finally is huge to me.”
Murphy consistently outshot Shuman a year ago, and Shuman described Murphy’s game as “absolutely killer.”
That’s why Shuman’s chance to win could have been left for dead on No. 17, which started awfully.
“I juiced a 9-iron right over the green, then chunked the chip,” she said.
But when faced with that downhill putt, Shuman accurately read the break, lined it up and tapped the ball just enough to reach the cup.
Again, unsure about who was leading, she encountered Palisade assistant coach Eloy Vendegna on the way to the No. 18 tee box.
“Eloy just looked at me and said, ‘You know what to do. Just do it,’ ” Shuman said. “So I hit 9-iron and two-putted and took par.”
Then, she took home the first-place medal.
“She competed today,” Bulldogs coach Jan Norell said. “Aly worked her tail off (in the offseason). She got it done.”
Norell also was pleased with her team’s showing, as Palisade finished third with 234 strokes, trailing only winner Glenwood Springs (222) and runner-up Grand Junction (230).
Bailey Summers led the way for the Tigers, shooting a 72 to tie for third place, and fellow senior Avery Hill carded a 77. Sophomore Savannah Balint rounded out Grand Junction’s score with an 81.
“There’s something about us and Glenwood, we’re always battling like that,” Tigers coach Sandy Story said.
She added it was a good start, given Grand Junction has two seniors and an otherwise young team. There is plenty of competition, though, to provide a solid third scorer behind Summers and Hill, who are returning 5A state qualifiers. Grand Junction has depth with 15 players on the team and a 16th soon to join.