COLORADO SPRINGS — A rough start, a better finish.
That summed up the day for one of the top two girls from the Southern Region at the Country Club of Colorado.
Pueblo West High School junior Courtney Ewing and East senior Gia Zupancic had their struggles early on during the first round of the Class 4A State High School Girls Golf Championships played at the 5,959-yard, par-72 layout on Monday.
Ewing recovered enough to finish the day tied for fourth. Zupancic didn’t.
Ewing, initially playing the backside of the course, started her round with three bogeys and a double bogey. She made the turn at 6-over-par 42.
A birdie on the 18th hole followed by another birdie on No. 1 gave her momentum. That carried her to a 40 for her back nine and an 82 total, good enough for a tie for fourth place entering today’s final round.
However, she is 10 strokes back of Jefferson Academy’s Jennifer Kupcho, the first-day leader who shot even-par 72 on Monday. Kupcho was the only player to shoot in the 70s.
The team chase is tight with five teams within nine strokes — Montrose at 267, Cheyenne Mountain 270, Valor Christian 271, Estes Park 272 and Colorado Academy 276.
Pueblo East, which is playing in the state tournament for the first time in outgoing coach Bruce Beller’s 10-year tenure, shot a 314 total and is sitting in eighth place.
“Really shaky start, but I came around,” Ewing said. “A couple of birdies really saved me. I actually got a lot of putts to drop when I needed them. I’m happy how well I fought back after the first few holes.
“I really like the course. It does play tough. It plays longer than we’re used to.”
Zupancic, the South-Central League and Southern Region champion, had an 8 on No. 2 to start her round. That led to an 8-over-par 44 at the turn and she never recovered, finishing at 17-over-par 89.
“I just didn’t have a swing today,” Zupancic said. “My drives were good but I couldn’t make a putt. One was too far, one was too short. The greens were tough. I thought they were pretty hard, fast greens like that.”
Ewing, who finished in a tie for 25th as a sophomore and 45th as a freshman, has lofty goals for today.
“I want to get into the top 10, so have to contain the nerves,” Ewing said. “That got to me today and I can’t let that happen tomorrow. Mid- to high 70s is possible if I don’t have such a rough start.”
Zupancic, who tied for 37th as a junior and tied for 23rd as a sophomore, said she just needs to enter the second round with a better attitude.
“Just go refocus,” she said. “Probably go putt a little bit tonight. Figure out what I was doing with my long irons and woods.”
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