Region golf: Palo Verde, Coronado brave rough conditions to grab leads after first day

While most saw the 15-20 mph winds as a hindrance Monday afternoon, Palo Verde girls golf coach Todd Steffenhagen thought his veteran-led team could use it to their advantage. And to a certain extent, he was right.

It also helped having the day’s top overall performer.

Annick Haczkiewicz was one of only two golfers from the two Class 4A regions to shoot under par at the 5,566-yard Boulder City Municipal course, and it was the senior’s big day that helped the Panthers grab a one-stroke lead over Centennial after the first day of the Sunset Region tournament.

“We thought the winds — early afternoon — probably would die off, but they were steady all day,” Steffenhagen said. “We’ve certainly played in rougher conditions. But it was gusty, and you could tell from the scores. …

“(Fortunately), we’re in the game.”

Haczkiewicz shot 4-under-par 68 to lead all golfers, and teammate Rebecca Oertel carded a 76 to move into fourth place and help the Panthers end their day at 326. Favored Centennial is second at 327, ahead of Bishop Gorman (342) and Clark (362).

The two-day tournament concludes Tuesday at Bear’s Best.

Haczkiewicz finished with six birdies and made the turn at 3-under to get the Panthers off to a strong start. Along with Clark freshman Riana Mission (69), Haczkiewicz — who is committed to Brigham Young — was able to control her distance shots and find success in her short game.

“She’s been playing really well and hitting a draw that goes through the wind real nice,” Steffenhagen said. “She’s good at controlling her flight in windy conditions. So it didn’t really affect her.”

It did for everyone else.

“(The wind) was making our ball go everywhere today,” Centennial freshman McKenzi Hall said. “It was terrible.”

Gorman’s Hunter Pate ended the day in third (75). Faith Lutheran’s Sydney Smith and Hall are tied in fifth at 77.

“The wind was definitely a factor, for sure,” said Smith, who is committed to Colorado State. “It was hard — sometimes, the gusts would come and then I’d either be short or long because of that.”

Class 4A Sunrise Region

In the Class 4A Sunrise Region, Coronado had four of the top five golfers to take a commanding lead. The three-time defending region champions shot 317, and currently have a 93-shot advantage over second-place Green Valley.

Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said he liked how his players handled the conditions, but hopes their putting is a little sharper Tuesday.

“For the most part, it was just us handling the greens,” Sawaia said. “We didn’t putt very well today. That attributed to probably 10 strokes more than we needed to shoot. But we did what we had to do to come out and move on to the next day.

“It was tough conditions today, and they were just trying to do their best to get around it and get some decent scores on the house.”

Coronado senior Gabby DeNunzio, who has committed to Weber State, currently sits atop the Sunrise Region leaderboard at 3-over 75. DeNunzio is ahead of Cougars teammates Victoria Estrada (78), Sami Penor (78) and Crystle Querol (86) and Foothill’s Katie Schlichenmayer (88).

DeNunzio was even-par after hole No. 11, but bogeyed three of the last five holes, including 17 and 18, to come back to the field. She will be looking for her first region title on Tuesday.

“I definitely left a lot of shots out there,” DeNunzio said. “Made some stupid decisions, but I can’t really complain. It was tough conditions. … Just (have to) play my game and focus on me tomorrow. Don’t worry about what anybody else is doing and go through my pre-shot routine.”

Class 3A Southern Region

In the Class 3A Southern Region tournament, Boulder City’s Lani Potter shot 2-over 74 to help the Eagles take the opening-round lead at Las Vegas Municipal.

The Eagles shot 357 as a team, 14 shots ahead of second-place Tech. Pahrump Valley is third at 382.

Pahrump’s Breanne Nygaard is second individually at 80, and Tech’s Cassidy Phelan is third at 82.

Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at or 702-383-0430. Follow @af_ferguson on Twitter.

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