Feeling comfortable with new clubs helps Mesa’s Hilts shoot solid score

JENNIFER HILTS STRUGGLED IN HER FIRST tournament with the Mesa State Mavericks, but finally started to feel comfortable with her new clubs and surged to a fourth-place finish at the Mesa State Invitational at Tiara Rado. Tuesday, Hilts shot an 81 and had a two-day total of 163.

Jennifer Hilts can relate to playing with unfamiliar golf clubs much like teammate Dana Anderson.

Hilts ordered a new set of clubs last month and is just now adjusting to them.

Anderson’s clubs are still at home, so she is using former coach Butch Miller’s clubs.

One week after bringing up the rear for the Mesa State College team, the freshman from Bend, Ore., led the way with a two-round total of 163 to tie for fourth place Tuesday in the Mesa State Invitational at Tiara Rado Golf Course. The Mavericks placed fourth as a team with 668.

“I feel much better,” Hilts said. “Last week, I was still working with new clubs and swing changes. I shot much better this week. I’m happy about that.

“My new clubs came a couple of days before I got here. It took me a couple of weeks to get used to them.”
Hilts finished four strokes behind medalist Kiley Johansen of Fort Hays (Kan.) State University with 159. The freshman from Hays, Kan., won her first college tournament to lead the Tigers to the team title with 655.

“It’s really exciting and a big change from last week,” said Johansen, who cut 13 strokes off her score from her first tournament last week. “This course is more my style. I liked this course.”

“I hit the ball well. (Monday), I made putts and today I had some good chips. ”

Montana State-Billings took second with 665. Western New Mexico finished third with 666 and Mesa State dropped to fourth despite trimming six shots off its first-round score.

“We are real close,” Mesa State coach Scott Hanson said. “It’s part of the process. We’re getting a crash course, but I think we’re closer than we realize. I was hoping we’d move up today, but it looks like everyone else played good, too.”

Mesa State’s Afton Balling finished tied for ninth at 165, Sadie Peavler was 15th at 167 and Jessica Berve tied for 22nd with a 173.

“I think Sadie was disappointed,” Hanson said. “I think Jess was disappointed and I think Afton feels she could have done a little better.”

Hilts did a lot better than last week, knocking 20 strokes off her score in the Chadron State Invitational.

“After the first round last week, we got something to eat and went back to the range,” Hanson said. “She is so strong. We made little changes. She trusted it and was confident. It made the difference for her.  ”

Hilts was pleased as well.

“Overall, I played well,” Hilts said. “The front nine I shot 39. The back nine, all except for one hole, I played solid the whole time.”

That one hole was No. 13, the par-3 over the pond. Hilts put two balls in the water and took a double bogey.

“She had trouble on 13, but she came back and basically parred in from there,” Hanson said. “That was impressive to have that happen and finish like she did before.”

Adjusting to the clubs made all the difference.

“I’ve been playing with the same clubs the last six or seven years,” Hilts said. “I got to a point I was too strong for them. They didn’t fit properly.

“I had to alter my swing to fit my old clubs. The lie and length were different. My new clubs fit my body.”


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