Focusing on a victory

Wind doesn't get Shuman off her game in Wildcat win

Palisade’s Aly Shuman watches her drive Tuesday on the 13th hole during the Wildcat Invitational at the Golf Club at Redlands Mesa. Shuman shot an 83 to win the individual title, her second victory of this season, and second of her prep career.

One day after an 81 left Aly Shuman disappointed, an 83 felt really good, as did getting inside any building with four walls.

The wind that arose about halfway through the Wildcat Invitational girls golf tournament lifted scores higher than normal, but Shuman didn’t let it take her too far off her game. She kept her focus and played smart enough Tuesday to win the second tournament of her high school career, both coming this season.

“It was a rough day out there with a lot of wind,” Shuman said. “When it gets like that, I try to keep my head down and stay focused.”

She also tried to keep her shots lower, following the advice of Palisade assistant coach Eloy Vendegna to “club up,” knowing the wind would knock down her higher-lofted shots.

A perfect example came on hole No. 11, where Shuman hit a 5-iron instead of a 7-iron on her approach, and she rolled the shot eight feet from the pin, then sank the putt for par.

Bulldogs coach Jan Norell called it the shot of the day and said, “I got to watch that. That was pretty cool.”

Pars were difficult to come by once the wind arrived, and Shuman said it made its presence felt on No. 8 and stayed for the rest of the round. Before that, conditions were great for the first seven holes, she said.

But Shuman’s scorecard looked better with the wind. She had two triple-bogeys during her first six holes and none after that. One double-bogey was the high mark in her final 12 holes, which included six pars and a birdie.

Shuman said the worst of the wind was on the final five holes, but she finished strong, shooting two pars and a birdie on her final three holes.

“Just the whole day was struggling for par,” Shuman said. “It took a lot of character to try to pull through that.”

A better day with the putter helped, too, as the flat stick had been a source of frustration Monday when Shuman thought her 81 during a beautiful afternoon at the Bookcliff Invitational should have been a score in the 70s.

Tuesday looked like it was going to be another banner day for Rifle sophomore Elly Walters, who played in the lead group with Shuman. Then came the wind, and it was evident on her scorecard. Walters, fresh off a tournament-winning 75 the day before, parred seven of her first eight holes at Redlands Mesa. The best she did thereafter was bogey.

But Walters, who finished second Tuesday with an 85, didn’t blame the wind for her woes.

“If I hit it decent, I would three-putt,” she said. “I’d be in good shape and not hit a good chip.”

Walters said she had to think about the wind on the back nine, “but I had a lot of not super-smart plays that cost me some pars. ... The wind makes everything harder, but it’s not a big enough reason. I still feel like I should have played better.”

Shuman said it was good to win a tournament in which Walters was playing “because Elly Walters is one of the best golfers in the state.”

Walters didn’t have an individual win to celebrate, but she had a team win to enjoy for the second day in a row.

Rifle had four of the top five scores, including three of the four scores under 90. Freshman Masi Smith added an 87, and senior Emily Neuroth shot an 88.

Bears coach Roger Walters said a team score of 260 in Tuesday’s conditions “is pretty good,” and calling the afternoon windy wasn’t giving the wind its due. Walters sat by the clubhouse fireplace to warm up after his last player finished, and he said the wind was frequently blowing over golf bags, “so it was pretty severe.”

Given that, he was proud of his team’s score.

“It’s just about: Get in your bubble and grind,” Walters said. “Everyone has to play in it, so it’s who copes the best.”

He also praised Neuroth, whose score Tuesday was a mere two strokes higher than Monday’s 86 in much better conditions.

“I thought Emily played outstanding today,” Walters said. “I thought she might do well because her ball flight is pretty low, and she putted well. I thought she had a great day.”


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