Mikayla McKie cards 79 to lead Montrose in win
Instead of improving upon her best round by a stroke or two, Montrose junior Mikayla McKie blew it away.
Entering Monday’s Montrose Invitational girls golf tournament, which doubled as the first day of the Southwestern League Championship, McKie’s best round was 87 strokes. Now, it’s 79, and it was good for her highest finish ever in a tournament, as she won a scorecard tiebreaker over teammate Chelsea Peterson for second place, one stroke behind winner Kiselya Plewe of Dolores/Montezuma-Cortez.
With the Indians’ Jordan Cherry placing fourth with an 80, the Montrose Red team won the invitational handily over runner-up Durango (267), and the Indians carry a 29-stroke lead into today’s final round of the SWL meet.
Montrose coach Jim Scarry said McKie is talented and works hard, and he and the rest of the Indians have seen the improvement she’s made. But knocking eight strokes off her previous best exceeded expectations.
“Am I shocked? No,” Scarry said. “Am I pleasantly surprised? Yes.
“She’s still learning her game. She’s making fewer and fewer silly mistakes and mental mistakes. Today she was making her short putts. You want to improve your score? That will do it.”
Carding birdies is a good way to bring a score down, too, and McKie had three of them Monday.
“I was just hitting straight, and I was making some long putts,” she said, adding she sank two 10-foot birdie putts.
One of those birdie putts was from the fringe of the green, and McKie said that was her shot of the day.
McKie was not alone on her team in carding the lowest round of her career. Scarry said Bethany Wells’ 84 and Sierra Wilson’s 89 were their best rounds. He also said he was thrilled to have four players shoot 84 or better.
“I don’t ever remember getting scores like that,” he said. “To have that kind of depth, and to have another girl at 89 … five scores under 90, we’ve done that several times this year. It’s nice to have that depth.”
It’s also nice to have senior leaders like Cherry and Peterson.
“It all starts with Jordan and Chelsea,” Scarry said. “Their leadership, their work ethic, their example … I don’t have to force them to do anything. You get better at this game by working hard at it, and those two set the tone for this team.”
Cherry demonstrated the importance of never giving up on a hole or a round. She started her day with a triple bogey, followed by a double bogey, then shot three-over par the rest of the way to salvage an 80.
Grand Junction, Montrose Red and Aspen were the only teams in the 13-team invitational field with all of their players shooting below 100. The Tigers placed fourth in the invitational and third in the SWL meet.
Avery Hill led the way with an 86, her best score as a Tiger.
“She had a very good day,” Grand Junction coach Clay Tufly said. “She’s been coming down pretty fast, so it’s good to see. She was probably in the 120s to start the season, and last tournament was probably high 90s. Today she had a little confidence and kept it in play.”
Central placed sixth in the invitational and sits in fourth in the SWL meet at 287. The Warriors’ Sammi Medina led the way with an 85.
Fruita Monument was two strokes back of Central, led by Megan Volkmann’s 91.
It wasn’t Volkmann’s best score, but it was in the range she’s been shooting lately.
“The last three tournaments, she’s really coming on,” Wildcats coach T.J. Cox said. “She’s put in some work the last few weeks. She’s been working pretty hard.”