Huskies’ Plath makes state golf tourney
DELTA, Colorado ” Battle Mountain’s Kaity Plath really didn’t think she had a chance at making the state tournament at Tuesday’s regional invitational at Devil’s Thumb Golf Club in Delta.
Not after taking a snowman on the par-5 second.
Not after she felt like her every single shot found the all-too-inviting bunkers at Devil’s Thumb.
And certainly not after carding a 47 on the front nine.
“I think I hit every bunker. It was just like bunker to bunker to bunker to bunker,” Plath said. “After the front nine, I was like, ‘Whatever. I’m just going to play.’ I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
Not so, young grasshopper. The senior fired a 42 on the back, including a birdie on the 13th, for an 89, good for seventh, and a ticket to the Rolling Hills Country Club in Golden in two weeks for the state tournament.
“Her course management was excellent,” Huskies coach Cassie Desmone said. “She got into a little trouble on the front nine. But she stayed out of the hazards, played smart and her chipping was just great.”
Making Plath’s accomplishment all the more improbable is that this has not exactly been a good golfing spring. Practicing chipping ” Plath holed out twice with her wedge Tuesday ” and other aspects of the game just really isn’t possible, especially in Battle Mountain’s wrestling room, where the team has been practicing for most of the year.
To top it off, Plath is the first Battle Mountain golfer to qualify for the state meet since 2005.
Snowman or sandman?
Things did not start well for Plath. After bogeying the first, she ran into tons of trouble on the par-5, 491-yard second. Devil’s Thumb is known for its sand, and unfortunately for Plath, she got well-acquainted with it.
She seemingly played from the bunker on the right side for most of the hole carding a triple.
“After that, all I was seeing on every tee shot was sand, not the fairway,” Plath said.
While the senior didn’t get her game in gear until the back nine, she had two key moments on the front ” threes for pars on Nos. 4 and 7.
On the par-3 fourth, she missed the green and then promptly duffed her first chip. Her second wedge was much better. She drained it for par.
Plath said that getting her putting going was key to gathering the other aspects of her game. Of course, the better one chips, the easier the putt.
“My confidence comes from putting,” she said. “When I’m putting well, it’s like, ‘Thank God,’ Then, I started hitting the ball better on the back. It just kind of happens that way. When I start chipping and putting well, I start hitting well.”
Seemingly with nothing to lose after what she thought was a a season-ending 47 on the first nine, Plath deftly avoided the water on No. 10 for a par. After bogeys on the 11th and 12th, she gambled on the par-4 13th and struck gold.
Going right on the 13th is the safe play. Pulling driver and aiming left with the driver to a more-advantageous landing area, guarded by rocks, is the risky play. Her towering drive to the left was true.
From there, she chipped to 6 feet, ironically not one of her better short-game efforts of the day, but found the bird sanctuary with the flat blade.
But Plath wasn’t out of the woods ” rather rocks ” yet. She bogeyed the 12 when the wind took her approach with a pitching wedge long.
Plath felt she needed to atone for that miscue with a birdie or two on the way home, thinking she couldn’t break 90 without a tweeter.
“I told Mrs. Desmone, I really wanted to birdie 17 and 18,” Plath said. “I thought I needed a birdies to break 90.”
As it turned out, she got pars on 17 ” another chip-in ” and 18, which after the careful adding of her card got her around in 89.
After submitting her scorecard, she noticed she was in the hunt for an individual state berth. (The winning team and top-10 individuals go from the Slope regional.) And as more and more groups came in, the 89 looked better and better.
“It was just really cool,” Plath said when it became official. “It’s cool for the team in general. A lot of them didn’t hit off grass until the first tournament (of the season). For them to go out there with girls shooting 90s and 80s, and under tournament condition, it’s been intimidating. They all did a really good job, too.”
For Plath, the 89 Tuesday came out of the blue since it was so early in the season. Her career best was a 78 on the Red Sky Fazio Course last summer.
So Plath, Desmone and the rest of the Huskies girls golf team can be excused for not knowing that state is at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Golden.
“I have no idea,” she said with a laugh when asked about the state course. “I think there’s a practice day before the tournament. We’ll go down there and take a look.”
According to the CHSAA bulletin, practice tee times are available for Plath Sunday afternoons with the state tournament May 19-20.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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