GIRLS STATE GOLF: STC’s Van Dyk claims early advantage in Ames
AMES – Both South Tama County junior Paige Van Dyk and Trojan golf coach Kelle Boles thought staying right around par for the 36 holes would be enough to win the Class 3A Iowa Girls State Golf Tournament.
Van Dyk did a little better than that Tuesday, firing a 1-under 72 during first-round action at the Ames Golf and Country Club.
That effort gives her a six-shot lead over Cascade’s Kate Coyle heading into today’s final 18 holes. East Sac County’s Makayla Ernst also is within striking distance after carding an 80, while Atlantic’s Brooke Fletcher and Beckman Catholic’s Blair Klosterman each shot 83s.
“I knew if I did good today, tomorrow I wouldn’t be so uptight and nervous,” said Van Dyk. “I got that goal accomplished.
“My chipping was on today. The chipping really helped me. I know that I don’t have to get on the green in regulation. I know I can get up and down with a lot of different shots.”
The start time for Tuesday’s first round was pushed back three hours due to heavy downpours in the area over the past three days. The course was filled with puddles of water and some holes had to be adjusted accordingly, but Van Dyk worked her way through the unfortunate conditions to put herself in position to win her first state title, recording 13 pars, three birdies and two bogeys.
“It was really hot and really long and I hate waiting,” said Van Dyk. “I just want to go up and hit right away. It’s a long day. The wetness stinks. Wherever you move it, you’ll have water everywhere. There are ups and downs to it though.”
Carroll Kuemper Catholic (367) leads the Class 3A team standings by seven strokes over Beckman Catholic (374). Unity Christian (383) sits third, Williamsburg (393) and Cascade (394) round out the top five. Atlantic, Columbus Catholic and Clarinda are sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
Van Dyk began her round like she usually does – with a bogey on No. 1. She got the stroke back on No. 3 with a birdie and then went back over par with another bogey on the par 3, 165-yard No. 4.
After that though Van Dyk was masterful off the tee and played bogey-free golf the rest of the way, keeping herself in the middle of the fareway with booming tee shots, staying close to the pins with nifty chip shots and keeping herself in the lead with smart putts.
“She hit the ball solid, hit it down the middle most of the time and was on target,” South Tama coach Kelle Boles said. “That is Paige’s easy-weasy way I guess.”
The biggest advantage Van Dyk had came on the par 5s. She out-drives most of her competition and often got to the green in two shots on those holes. She got to the green in two knocking in a birdie on the par 5, 400-yard No. 6.
Van Dyk then did the exact same thing on the par 5 No. 10.
“Par 5s are to my advantage. I can hit it further than most of the girls so I love those holes,” Van Dyk said. “I feel like they give me the best chances for birdies.”
The Trojan admitted to playing it safe in most situations because she figured par golf would win her a title. She missed out on opportunties for birdies on No. 9, No. 12 and No. 15 but saved par on the No. 16 with an impressive chip shot and the No. 17 following a 12-15 foot putt.
“She is confident and it’s a lot of practice,” Boles said. “We worked on 12-15 footers and if she didn’t make 8 out of 10 in practice she had to start over. She has confidence in those longer putts and knows how to read the greens. She reads the greens tremendously well.”
Van Dyk was fourth at the state tournament last year as a sophomore. The three golfers in front of her are now in Class 4A in the new five- class format.
One of those golfers is Charles City’s Jessie Sindlinger, who is attempting to become only the state’s second four-time champion. She is well on her way to accomplishing the feat for the first time since 1958 after firing a first-round 8-under 65.
She is my best friend as a golfer,” Van Dyk said in reference to Sindlinger. “I play with her a lot in the summer. It is always nice to meet up with her and stuff. She is the one that I look up to. If I compete with her, I expect her to win every time. But she motivates me to be as good as she is some day.”
MacKenzie Black, last year’s Class 3A runner-up out of Independence, is currently second in 4A but is eight strokes behind Sindlinger. Megan Joerger of Charles City is third after firing a 79, while Grinnell’s Amanda Hintz turned in an 80.
Charles City is way out in front of the Class 4A team race after shooting a 330. Cedar Rapids Xavier is 22 strokes back in second, while Clear Lake and Grinnell both carded a 360.
South Tama County’s team was fourth in Class 3A last year. … Van Dyk’s sister Taylor is currently golfing at Northern Iowa. She was 11th at state in 2010, seventh in 2011 and sixth last year. … Paige Van Dyk qualified for this year’s state meet after firing a 74 at Otter Creek Golf Course in Ankeny. That was by far the best qualifying score in Class 3A. … Upper Iowa University men’s and women’s coach Mike Lewis told the T-R that he was in Ames on Tuesday to watch and eventually recruit both Paige Van Dyk and Klosterman. … The 13th hole took at least 45 minutes for Van Dyk’s group to complete because they got stuck behind a slow foursome who needed help with some course rules. Two full groups were waiting to tee off No. 13 before that foursome was completely done with the hole. “That is probably the longest hole I have ever played. I just knew I had to stay relaxed,” said Van Dyk. “I couldn’t think about it too much.”