COLORADO SPRINGS – For much of the day, Discovery Canyon’s Emily Cheng felt like she was battling from behind.
At least until nearly holed out a wedge shot for eagle on No. 15. She tapped in for a birdie to pull even with Erie’s Logan Hale at 2-over with three holes to go. Cheng eventually took a one-shot lead, but three-putted for bogey on 18 ending her day in a tie for first place at the Cheyenne Mountain Invite at the Country Club of Colorado.
According to iWanamaker, Hale took the tiebreaker, but the battle between two of the best individual players in the state was everything it should’ve been on paper.
“It’s beneficial to play a person I’ve played with for a while,” Cheng said. “We’ve always been paired together and getting a feel for top competition will help me in the future.”
Cheng finished third at the Class 4A girls golf state tournament last year and was 12 strokes behind state Champion Jessica Mason (Holy Family). Mason is back as a senior and looking to claim a second straight title, but Hale and Cheng are two players in a very talented field that are looking to unseat Mason.
They’re both ranked in the top five on iWanamaker, as is Cheyenne Mountain’s Ava Schroeder. Cheng and Hale finished their day at CC of C shooting a 2-over-par 73. Shroeder finished third with a 77 and Discovery Canyon claimed the team win which is significant because Erie has emerged as a team capable of knocking the Thunder off the team state Championship perch in June.
Making the trek to Colorado Springs makes for a long day, but for the Tigers it’s a day that could be beneficial in the long term.
“Even though it’s a long drive, playing in any tournament setting is beneficial,” Hale said. “It’s good for the team to travel here and play some competitive golf.”
For Discovery Canyon, Lauren Jaworoski shot 78 and Anna Mettler shot 86 as all three sat in the top seven of the individual Leaderboard.
Hale jumped out to a quick lead on the day, getting a two-putt birdie on the par-5 second. She gave the stroke back on No. 3 but got her second birdie on the day on No. 4. She took a one-stroke lead over Cheng and Schroeder at 14 with her third birdie of the day.
But Cheng stayed within striking distance and pulled even with a Magnificent wedge shot on No. 15. That gave her the boost she needed to maintain a competitive Mindset down the final stretch of the round.
“I got a lot of momentum from that,” Cheng said. “I fell behind early and to hit that within an inch (of the hole) gave me the spirit to keep on fighting.”
The fight ended with Hale and Cheng putting up matching scores, but it served as a preview of what might be in store at the 4A state tournament at Tiara Rado in Grand Junction. Hale can’t help but look forward to it as she was near the top of the Leaderboard at the 3A state tournament last year when she played for Vail Mountain.
“The (4A) field is Deeper,” Hale said. “I’m not just competing against the course anymore, I’m competing against my friends and girls. I normally compete against in (junior golf).”