Playing to win: Central’s Forney aiming to win Class 5A state golf crown
Players approach the Class 5A state golf tournament in different ways.
Some are hoping to gain experience, others not expecting to win but just be competitive.
A select few are seeking a championship.
Central High School golfer Loren Forney has the experience, and is always competitive. This year, she’s playing to win.
Monday and Tuesday at the Class 5A state golf tournament at Commonground Golf Course in Aurora, Forney is ready to become the second girl from the Grand Valley (McKenzie Dyslin, Fruita Monument, 1998) to win an individual state championship.
“She’s going to have a great chance at winning this tournament,” Central coach Casey Doss said. “She’s very consistent and her biggest key is going to be getting off the (tee) box.”
Forney won the Northern Regional nearly two weeks ago by shooting a 76. She finished three strokes ahead of the second-place finisher.
The regional title puts Forney on the state course early, teeing off at 8:30 on Monday morning, the first group on No. 10.
Forney is playing with Somin Lee of Overland and Andi Hibbert of Lakewood.
“I play with girls like that during the summer so I’m used to the competition,” Forney said. “You have to think you can (win) it, you’ll never hear Annika Sorenstam say ‘I can’t win this tournament,’ then go win it.”
Forney’s “in it to win it” attitude about the state tournament comes from three seasons of performing well the final two days of the season. Forney played her first two years of prep golf at Rifle High School, where she finished in the top five of the 4A state tournament both years.
Last year, Forney moved into the Grand Junction area and finished 16th in her first year as a Warrior. She could have finished higher, but Forney said she struggled at times with her drive.
“This year I have a better perspective on things,” Forney said. “I’ve progressively gotten better and have a lot more knowledge about what to expect.”
Although her distance off the tee puts her in good position, chipping and putting sets her apart.
“I’ve been coaching this team for four years, and her short game is as good as I’ve seen in that time,” Doss said. “I’m talking across the board, statewide, so if she’s getting off the box and into the fairway, she’ll be tough to beat.”
On the surface it would be easy to think Forney’s putting pressure on herself to win the state tournament, but that’s not the case. Forney has already signed to play golf for Portland State University, and is looking at the tournament as a great way to cap her high school career.
“I’ve already got a college picked out, I’ve graduated, so it’s not too stressful,” Forney said. “So like anything, I’m hoping to win it, but I want to have fun, too.”
Joining Forney at the state tournament is Central sophomore Brittany Hoppe.
Although this is Hoppe’s first time qualifying for state, being a three-sport athlete has made her a tough competitor.
After being in plenty of pressure-packed situations as a member of the Warriors’ softball and basketball teams, Hoppe was forced to win a two-hole playoff at the Northern Regional to advance to state.
“It was intense, I’m not going to lie,” Hoppe said. “I was trying to get into the other girl’s head, and I was giving her the eye the whole time. I’m under pressure in every sport, and this time I was like, ‘I have the upper hand,’ and I had the confidence.”
A big hitter off the tee, Hoppe’s key at state will be taking care of the short game. For Hoppe, like any golfer, putting success will be all about confidence. She tees off at 10 a.m. on Monday, also playing the back nine first.
“I’ve been trying to putt with confidence, hit with confidence and that’s what I’ve been focusing on,” Hoppe said. “At this point of the season I know what I need to work on and it’s my putting.”
Doss echoed the sophomore’s thoughts.
“When she’s playing confident, she’s hitting the ball a long way, and hopefully it translates to her putting,” Doss said. “That’s been her nemesis all year, and when she’s putting well she’s going to play well.”