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It’s been said many times that golf is an unpredictable sport that requires plenty of mental grit.
For myself, golf has always been pretty predictably bad, with a few good shots and holes but very few good rounds. And the mental fortitude has always been missing, since after a good hole, I have myself talked into botching the tee shot on the next hole.
Highlands Ranch senior Jenna Chun know all about how golf can be unpredictable, but she has the mental strength to handle it, as she displayed last season at the Class 5A state tournament.
After an opening round 83 at The Club at Rolling Hills, she rallied with a 1-under par 71 to tie Grandview’s Amy Chitkoksoong for medalist honors and force a playoff for the individual state title.
Chun had a chance to win but missed a putt on the second playoff hole and also couldn’t hole a bogey putt on the third extra hole. Chitkoksoong ran in her bogey putt and was crowned the state champ with a bogey putt.
It was a disheartening finish to a very good day but Chun faced the music, acted like a winner and answered question after question following the awards ceremonies.
“The best I’ve ever seen Jenna Chun was after the state meet,” said Highlands Ranch coach Jon Cushing. “She took defeat with a lot of grace. Golf is such a mental sport. She has come back this year with a great mental attitude. She doesn’t let one high score on a hole affect her.”
Chun, who carded a two-over-par 74 at the Central regional tournament at South Suburban on May 7, won three Continental League tournaments and the league’s Player of the Year.
Ralston Valley coach Wendy Davis is another person who can attest to the unpredictability of a two-day state tournament.
The Mustangs were five shots off the lead after the opening round but won their first state golf championship by nine shots after a remarkable round in which the average round for the three scoring golfers was 76.3.
Wait until next year
Next season’s Class 5A girls state tennis tournament could be very interesting because most of the freshman standouts from this year’s tourney will be back and be more experienced and better players.
There was definitely a youth movement this season with six of the 12 players in the Class 5A singles semifinals being freshmen. There were 31 freshmen who played in tournament and there are even more sophomores who qualified for the tourney — too many to count.
The youth movement cast a tentative feeling over the tournament because of the uncertainty of how the young players would play with the added pressure of playing in an important tournament with many more people watching.
“One of the points of focus was just talking about the environment,” said Cherry Creek coach Chris Jacob. “Even though we hosted the regionals and some of the girls have been down here to watch state, it’s totally different when you are playing with the pressure of the crowd. So we spent a lot of time talking about that.”
Of the 11 players including those on doubles teams that won state 5A championships, there were seven freshman and two sophomores.
I’m going to get on my soapbox again and claim there needs to be a better way to determine winners of playoff soccer games other than penalty kick shootouts.
Soccer is a team game. Determining the winning postseason team with a shootout, which most times is determined by luck or an individual’s skill, needs to be altered.
The best way would be to let the teams continue to play, but then you get into the problem with fatigue and the chance of injuries. A team’s depth would be tested as more substitute players would need to be used.
Shootouts are acceptable during the regular season but not in the playoffs.
So suggestions are needed. Maybe let the teams continue to play 9 vs. 9 or even 7 vs. 7 until a team gets that Golden Goal.
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-566-4083.
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