GJ shaves strokes to win tourney

Grand Junction High School’s Hanna Starritt gasps after missing a short putt Monday on No. 3 at Bookcliff Country Club during the Tiger Invitational.

Spring break depleted lineups of several teams, but Grand Junction High School still had enough girls swinging golf clubs Monday to win the Tiger Invitational.

All five Tigers finished in the top 13 individually as Grand Junction totaled 280 strokes to defeat runner-up Palisade by four strokes at Bookcliff Country Club. Durango was third at 289.

All of the Tigers kept their scores under triple digits, which coach Clay Tufly said was nice to see, especially with School District 51 teams in the second week of their spring break.

“All of our girls, none of them played last week,” Tufly said. “That makes it tough to be as sharp as you want to be.

“The scores were decent. They were pretty consistent among all of the girls.”

Senior Shafer Rubalcaba led the Tigers, carding the low score of her high school career, an 88, to tie for fourth place.

Rubalcaba said straying from the fairways at Bookcliff can mean big trouble, so she adjusted her swing and played it safe.

“I was trying not to over-hit my drives,” Rubalcaba said. “I was taking a slow, short backswing and keeping it straight.”

It’s an approach she plans to keep using, saying, “It’s nice to not get into trouble and play from the fairway.”

Bailey Summers had the next best round for the Tigers with a 95. Teammates Hanna Starritt and Avery Hill each shot 97, and Ryann Tufly shot a 98.

Clay Tufly said Summers and Hill “both brought their scores down substantially from last year (at the Tiger Invitational),” estimating each was at least 15 strokes better this year.

Tufly would like to see his team continue to improve. Ideally he’d like each player to improve 10 strokes by the end of the season. Even shaving off five to seven strokes will get most of his players scoring under 90, where they’ll need to be to contend at regional time.

Coal Ridge junior Melissa Steinbach was on one of the five teams that didn’t have enough players to record a team score Monday. She’s glad she made the trip. Steinbach shot the best round of her high school career, an 84, and won a high school tournament for the first time.

Steinbach said she shot a 94 at Bookcliff last year, but this year, “I think I just focused. I was more relaxed this year.”

She said her putting was good Monday, and the gem of her day was the 20-footer from the fringe that she made on No. 14.

She also put herself in position to take a lot of short putts, which hasn’t always been the best thing for her, as she explained, “I’m usually really bad at my short putting game. But I focused more and made a lot of them today.”


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