4A GOLF: Coronado navigates tough conditions to take first-round lead

CARSON CITY — Southern Nevada teams arrived Sunday afternoon for their scheduled walk of the Eagle Valley West Golf Course in the middle of a downpour that dumped more than 2½ inches of rain on Carson City over the weekend.

“I thought possibly if the course didn’t drain we might not play, because when we left, there was standing water on the greens,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said.

It was Sawaia’s Cougars who best navigated the difficult conditions in the first round of the Class 4A girls state golf tournament Monday afternoon, leading by 16 strokes despite posting their highest score of the season at 317. Bishop Gorman was second at 333, with Palo Verde third at 360.

Bishop Gorman’s Hunter Pate is the individual leader with a 2-over par 75. Pate holds a one-stroke lead over Coronado’s Victoria Estrada, who was the Sunrise Region individual champion. Sunset Region champion Annick Haczkiewicz of Palo Verde is third with a 79. Coronado’s Gabby DeNunzio and Sydney Smith of Faith Lutheran were among a four-way tie for fourth place at 80.

Play began about 30 minutes late as course maintenance got it ready for play, and nearly every player in the tournament, especially those in the first few groups, struggled in the early portion of the course.

Pate bogeyed three of the first four holes, but sandwiched her third bogey on No. 4 with birdies on the third and fifth holes. She made the turn at 1-over-par 37, and after bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes, birdied the 457-yard 15th hole and wrapped up her round with three consecutive pars.

“I just went out there and played shot after shot,” Pate said. “I played okay, but there’s always going to be a shot here or there you leave out there.”

Estrada had the lead after nine holes with an even par 36, neutralizing bogeys on the first two holes with birdies on Nos. 3 and 5. She shot 39 on the back nine, however.

“She’s exactly where she needs to be for tomorrow,” Sawaia said. “She struggled a little bit on the greens, but she worked on that post-round.”

Sawaia said he expects scores to be much better in Tuesday’s second round, with players having learned what adjustments to make on each hole.

“The first three holes were pretty much dead into the wind, and some of these holes, you can’t see from the tee box where you need to hit the ball,” Sawaia said. “We’re going to hit different clubs off tees.”

Despite being widely regarded as a heavy favorite, Sawaia said he was happy with the position his team is in.

“Championships are hard to win and we’re very fortunate and happy to have the lead,” he said. “It’s a two-day tournament and we’re halfway home.”

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