There’s little time to waste when you’re in the hunt for a state championship. So, shortly after firing a 5A Division I state tournamentleading round of 67, Red Mountain sophomore Kristen Schelling was back on the driving range working on her short game.
From there, Schelling moved to the putting surface, taking every opportunity to prepare for today’s final round at Aguila Golf Club in Laveen.
Red Mountain coach Steve Rushing called Schelling’s bogey-free performance her best of the year and attributed it to hard work at practice over the past two weeks.
"She’s leading the tournament at 5 under and I couldn’t be any happier for her," Rushing said. "It’s what she works toward all year. She’s playing against the best and likes to rise to the occasion. She’s obviously done that today."
Even though Schelling hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and, more impressively, her 67 is the lowest first-round score in a girls 5A state championship, she was cautiously optimistic about the idea of winning an individual title.
"I’ve put myself in a good position," Schelling said. "But 18 holes is a long way to go. I can’t jump to conclusions just yet. I just need to take one shot at a time, play solid and see what happens at the end of the day."
Desert Vista’s Brittany Stewart trails Schelling by four after shooting a 1-under 71. Stewart was the only other player to finish under par.
"My putting could have been a little better but the greens were a lot faster then we’ve been playing on," Stewart said. "I played well today and I hope to shoot lower tomorrow."
Hamilton’s Rachel Kim and Mountain Pointe’s Kayla Mortellaro are tied for third at 72.
Xavier, which had all five golfers in the top 13, leads the team competition with 304, 21 strokes better than Desert Vista.
"I’m proud of my girls’ performance today," Xavier coach Sister Lynn Winsor said. "But I’m really proud of all the girls out here. For Kristen Schelling to shoot 67 is awesome."
Xavier has won 22 of the past 24 state championships in 5A golf.