SOUTH HEART - The weather was a contributing factor to elevated scores during the final round of the East-West Classic on Saturday, May 11.
With an 8 a.m. shotgun start, competitors opened their day at Pheasant Country Golf Course ripping shots through raindrops, strong gusts and near-freezing temperatures; that's juxtaposed to clear-and-comfortable playing conditions during the previous late morning/early afternoon.
However, by the end of the gloomy and cold round, there was one player who dealt with the elements better than anyone.
Heart River senior Katie Keator earned the top prize of the second annual event, turning in a day-two low score of 80. After shooting a 76 in the first round, Keator collected a four-shot victory with an overall mark of 156.
The Cougars collected the team triumph for the second consecutive season with a two-day score of 673. Bowman County was the runner-up with a total mark of 750.
"It's nice to have teams from around the state come and witness (our performance) because with the state tournament coming up, they are going to be aware of competition and they are going to know that we are going to be hard to beat," Keator said.
Keator is the second Cougar to win the tournament after Campbell Clarys won the inaugural East-West Classic as a freshman last year. It is the seventh team victory for the Cougars this season as they bump their record to 49-7 since the beginning of 2015 campaign.
"I'm very happy with the way they played today. With the cold weather and wet conditions, I knew the scores would be higher today than yesterday, but they played very solid again," Heart River head coach Kirby Robb said. "The top four, our core, they know they have to rely on each other because of the younger No. 5 and No. 6 golfers, but I thought they played well through the conditions and I'm looking forward to the next two weeks. ... If we can play like this in the state tournament, we'll hopefully be in the top three."
Bogeying the first two holes, Keator went on a solid run thanks to her short game. On the par-5 fifth hole, the senior's approach shot rocketed well past the hole before making a stop on the cart path. She was still able to go up-and-down, though, chipping onto the green and putting in a putt from approximately 10 feet away.
Keator repeated that series of swings on the sixth hole as well as part of a stretch of seven-straight pars. She was the only person to complete the front nine in fewer than 40 strokes, shooting a 38.
Despite less luck on the back nine, Keator had another successful up-and-down on the 17th.
"It was really tough to hit any greens in regulation today with the wind," Keator said. "It was ridiculous, but my short game on the front helped me a lot. It saved me a lot of pars, I shot really well on the front, but then on the back, it kind of fell apart and wasn't doing me any favors."
One day after earning an eagle on 17, Bowman County senior Brooke Peterson continued her success on the Par-5 hole, sinking a birdie to preserve a runner-up finish
"It's a long hole, so most of the time, I can hit my driver and my irons far. It's very reachable for me in two (shots)," Peterson said.
Entering the morning with a one-shot lead following a first-round 75, Peterson struggled out of the gate, hitting double bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes en route to a 45 on the front nine. She bounced back with a 40 on the back nine, sealing second place with a two-day mark of 160.
"Coming in, I knew I probably wasn't going to shoot another 75. I knew the scores would be higher, but I was a lot more inconsistent than I was yesterday," Peterson remarked. "My short game was good, but my long game was rough, and I think the wind was to blame for that some. I just made sure that I kept my head in it and didn't get myself down because you can't do that when the weather is like this. ... I just tried to get good contact and that's all I could ask for."
Three strokes behind Peterson was Clarys, with a second-round score of 84. She also shot a 40 on the back nine.
"It was a different day, it kind of affected me," Clarys said. "Trying to stay warm, keeping your clubs dry in the morning when it was raining, and the wind affected your shots. It was pretty windy today.
"I wanted to play a lot better than I did today. I was hoping to win again, or maybe come in second and play better. I'm O.K. with coming in third place and I'm happy for Katie."
Heart River freshman Maddie Jarrett and Hazen senior Karlee Schmitt rounded out the top five. After tying for ninth last season, Tioga sophomore Asha Valliere was the highest non-Region 5 placer as she finished in a tie for sixth with Cougars freshman Grace Nantt. Slicing nine strokes off her first-round score, Valliere earned an 85 on day two and was one of two top-10 finishers to improve their performance from Friday.
"My putting got a little better, I got use to the greens a little more," Valliere said. "I'm pretty used to playing in this kind of weather, a lot of our meets are like this. I'm accustomed to a lot of the wind and stuff, and others might not be."
At the Pheasant Country Golf Course
Team scores: 1, Heart River, 673. 2, Bowman County, 750. 3, Hazen, 794. 4, Northern Lights-Rolla, 808. 5, Stanley, 868. 6, Tioga, 936. 7, Western Morton County, 969.
Individual top 10: 1, Katie Keator, HR, 76-80, 156. 2, Brooke Peterson, BC, 75-85, 160. 3, Campbell Clarys, HR, 79-84, 163. 4, Maddie Jarrett, HR, 83-92, 175. 5, Karlee Schmitt, H, 89-89, 178. T6, Asha Valliere, T, 94-85, 179, T6, Grace Nantt, HR, 85-94, 179. 8, Elise Fischer, BC, 91-94, 185. 9, Alexis Lamb, Bea., 90-99, 189. 10, Gabby Wilkie, NLR, 98-93, 191.
11, Hannah Hoffman, Center-Stanton, 98-94, 192. 12, Alora Warner, Mott-Regent, 97-99, 196. 13, Shanna Bakken, H, 93-105, 197. 14, Emma Saewert, Central Cass, 99-99, 198. T15, Bailey Peterson, BC, 99-101, 200. T15, Sadie Good, NLR, 97-103, 200. 17, Kaisa Mortenson, S, 201. 18, Caiti Henessy, S, 99-103, 202. T19, Ema Lee, CC, 102-101, 203. 20, Jeneca Kostad, Kenmare, 97-106, 203.
21, Logan Blankenbaker, BC, 97-111, 208. 22, Molly Robb, HR, 104-106, 210. T23, Megan McCarthy, H, 103-108, 211. T23, MacKenna Hanson, S, 104-107, 211. 25, Emmalia Frei, H, 98-114, 212. 26, Madelyn Braunberger, NLR, 102-111, 213. T27, Jordyn Peterson, H, 99-115, 214. T27, Maddie Wilkie, MLR, 113-101, 214. 29, Hailey Hoffman, CS, 113-105, 218. 30, Joslyn Nordmark, NLR, 103-118, 221.
31, Mackenzee Schneider, HR, 107-115, 222. 32, Carly Seidler, Garrison-Max, 108-116, 224. 33, Chloe Carr, T, 115-122, 237. 34, Kara Schantz, WMC, 116-123, 239. T35, Sami Watt, CC, 117-125, 242. T36, Courtney Soupir, WMC, 119-123, 242, T35, Caiden Anderud, WMC, 117-125, 242. 38, Gabby Kuhn, WMC, 130-116, 246. 39, Olivia Martens, Beulah, 125-123, 248. 40, Emma Welch, BC, 122-127, 249.
41, Carmen Elick, NLR, 127-125, 252. 42, Lydia Carr, T, 130-123, 253. 43, Sunny Halvorson, S, 120-138, 258. 44, Abby Hysjulien, H, 121-139, 260. 45, Mackenzie Fuller, GM, 132-130, 262. 46, Halle Sorenson, S, 131-134, 265. 47, Aspen Locken, S, 130-136, 266. T48, Tilda Ernstsson, Bea., 129-138, 267. T48, Peyton Skabo, T, 132-135, 267. 50, Mackenzie Gerving, WMC, 137-156, 293.
51, Sydnee Steele, Bea., 151-147, 298. 52, Kaysen Hirsch, T, 156-150, 306.