Girls golf: OHS falls short of state berth

MUSCATINE — Olivia Tippie has been there before.

On Tuesday, as the Ottumwa High School girls golf team was preparing for the following day's Class 4A regional tournament, the Bulldog senior noticed a teammate that was struggling during her round.

"Mackenzie (Adkins) didn't have a very good day. I tried to give her advice and she started to do a little better," Tippie said. "It just came down to the fact that she was trying too hard. We had a lot of conversations after the round that you just have to let the club do the work for you. You can't make it go and the harder you try, the worst it's going to go."

Tippie's encouragement could only carry the Ottumwa golfers so far at Geneva Golf and Country Club, one of the toughest courses in the state. The Bulldogs finished their season placing seventh in the Region 5 tournament with a score of 441, the second-highest total of the season 18 strokes better than a 459 posted at Veenker Memorial Golf Course in Ames, but six strokes higher than the 435 posted in the season-opening Ankeny Centennial Invitational played at the equally-tough Briarwood Club.

"About the only difference between Briarwood and Geneva is that, when we played at Briarwood, it was early in the year and the grass wasn't grown," Ottumwa head girls golf coach Ryan Morgan said. "If you played Briarwood today for this tournament, it would be very comparable to how tough Geneva currently is. The rough is super-thick. The greens are super-quick.

It's a beautiful golf course. I like playing it. It's a course that rewards good shots and penalizes bad shots more than some others. That's what kind of got us."

Even Ottumwa's best 18-hole score of the season of 382, posted in Ottumwa's championship-winning performance at the Centerville Redette Invitational back on Apr. 9, would not have been enough to earn the Bulldogs a state berth. Pleasant Valley continued its quest to track down the 4A girls state golf championship by winning the regional title with an amazing score of 325 while North Scott earned the second ticket to state with a score of 365, beating Iowa City Liberty by 26 strokes.

"You have to be really straight and really consistent to score like that on this course," Morgan said. "That's really hard to do over 18 holes. If you put it in the wrong spot around this course, it might take two or three shots just to get out of it."

Tippie can attest to that. In her final round of golf for the Bulldogs, the Ottumwa senior posted a score of 109 while dealing with the punishing rough of Geneva throughout the round.

"I'd say that 85 percent of my shots were out of the rough," Tippie said. "You throw in the water all around the course and the greens which were already fast, it was just very difficult. It was worse than Briarwood. If you hit it into the rough here, there's really no chance of hitting a good shot out of there."

Makayla Brown was able to finish her junior season by cracking 100 at the Geneva course, posting consistent scores of 50 and 49 for a final overall round of 99 including a par on the 102-yard 11th hole. Brown was in position to finish the season breaking 90, a mark the Ottumwa junior has reached multiple times this season after struggling to break 100 last season, before quadruple-bogeys on two of her final four holes dropped Brown back ultimately finishing 16 strokes shy of an individual state tournament berth.

"If I could have consistently played as well as I was playing late in the round, it could have been a better day," Brown said. "It just came down a couple bad hits and it just led to one thing or another from there."

Wednesday proved to be a tough day for area golfers with state tournament berths on the line. Centerville came the closest to qualifying as a team for state finishing fourth in the Class 2A, Region 3 tournament with a score of 383, ultimately finishing 35 strokes behind West Marshall for the final state berth out of the Leon Country Club.

"Golf isn't always the most rewarding sport, but you just have to keep plugging along," Centerville head girls golf coach Matt Kovacevich said. "Our goal every year is to win the (South Central) conference championship. We accomplished that this year. I think it took some of our best golf to make that happen."

In Class 3A, both Davis County and Fairfield finished with scores of 413 at the Region 4 Tournament hosted by Solon at Saddlebrook Ridge Golf Course. The Mustangs edged the Trojans for eighth place on a card-off as both schools finished 75 strokes behind Solon for the second and final state tournament berth out of the region.

Jayden Koenig, coming off an all-conference performance at the South Central Conference tournament last week, finished 18th to lead Davis County at the 3A regional tournament finishing with a round of 91 coming up eight strokes shy of an individual state berth. Ella Bentler led Fairfield with a round of 96, finishing in a tie for 29th.

Gracie Zaputil led Centerville at the 2A regional meet with a round of 86, falling just one stroke shy of extending her season by following Gracie Moorman in becoming the second Redette in as many seasons to qualify for state individually. Albia sophomore Emma Kipfer finished five strokes shy of a state berth after posting a round of 90 for the Lady Dees in Leon while Sigourney senior Emma Hammes concluded her season posting a round of 112 at The Preserve Course on Lake Rathbun in the Class 1A, Region 5 tournament finishing 23 strokes outside of a state berth.