Sunset Region: Palo Verde’s Annick Haczkiewicz shoots 6-under to win third region title

Palo Verde’s Annick Haczkiewicz and Clark’s Riana Mission were deadlocked at 3-under after 27 holes of the two-day Class 4A Sunset Region tournament.

So on the back nine of the Bear’s Best golf course Tuesday afternoon, it was time for the upperclassmen to show her chops.

Haczkiewicz birdied four of the last nine holes, including 16 and 17, to pull away from the Chargers’ impressive freshman and win her third Sunset Region individual title.

“That’s what you see the great ones do,” Palo Verde coach Todd Steffenhagen said. “They just put it out of reach. … She’s the best I’ve ever coached.”

Haczkiewicz, who led by one stroke after day one, finished the two-day event at 6-under-par 138, three shots ahead of Mission.

She credited her 14-foot birdie putt on No. 16, and eight-foot birdie putt on No. 17, for giving her the added confidence to close out the match.

“If I didn’t birdie 16 or 17, I only would’ve been winning by a shot,” Haczkiewicz said. “And coming into 18 would’ve been really nerve-wracking. So definitely having the extra two shots gave me a big confidence booster. When I made those putts, I was back in my game and like, ‘I can make any putt I want.’”

Haczkiewicz, who won an individual state title as a sophomore, was effective off the tee all day and relied on her short game to seal the victory at the 5,532-yard, par-72 golf course that is right down the street from her house.

“I always used to come chip and putt here,” Haczkiewicz said. “The first time I shot in the 60s was actually here. I shot a 69 here, maybe four years ago. It’s always been a really awesome course. I like the layout and everything.”

Haczkiewicz, who has committed to Brigham Young, took a conservative approach on No. 18 — a hole several golfers struggled with Tuesday. The green is surrounded by three bunkers and water on the right side. She two-putted to settle for par in front of a big crowd.

“Riana is a great player,” Haczkiewicz said. “And she could, honestly, make any birdie putt, too, coming into 17 or 18. So I still had to focus. I couldn’t be like, ‘Oh I won already.’

“I didn’t really let anything get into my head. I was just like, ‘Hit the drives you’ve been hitting all day.’ I just wanted to get on the green and two-putt.”

Faith Lutheran’s Sydney Smith shot 1-under Tuesday and finished in third place at 148. Bishop Gorman’s Hunter Pate (149) and Palo Verde’s Rebecca Oertel (154) rounded out the top five. Centennial’s McKenzi Hall (154) and Hailey Stevenson (155) placed sixth and seventh to help the Bulldogs claim their first region title.

By one stroke.

Centennial finished at 649, ahead of Palo Verde (650), Bishop Gorman (676) and Clark (745).

“Nail-biter,” Centennial coach Charlie Cerrone said. “This is the first group I’ve really had that I thought we could get after it. They didn’t make it easy, but it’s going to be enjoyable tonight.”

Though she double-bogeyed the hole, Hall’s long putt on No. 18 essentially lifted the Bulldogs to the team title.

“Kenzie’s putt was huge,” Cerrone said. “We talk about it all the time. Every shot matters. Every shot from the first hole to the 18th, it matters. That happened to mean a lot right there.”

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