Amy Ruelas’ favorite type of hole on the golf course is a par 5.
The senior at Foothill showed why on Thursday.
Ruelas birdied both par 5s on the Desert Hawk course at Boulder Creek Golf Club and carded a 2-over-par 74 to capture medalist honors at the Division I Sunrise Region girls tournament.
“I average 260 (yards) on my drives, so that’s a huge advantage for me,” Ruelas said. “I walked out here with high confidence. I had it in my head that I wanted it, and I wanted it more than anything.”
Ruelas played the par 5s in 2 under and had four birdies in all as she held off Green Valley’s Mercedes Khumnark, who was second with a 76. Coronado’s Natalie Yamamoto shot 77 to finish third.
Ruelas and Yamamoto each shot 1-over 37 on the Eldorado course and made the turn with a three-stroke lead over Khumnark. Ruelas birdied the par-5 second hole on the Desert Hawk course after reaching the green in two, and she knocked her second shot on the Desert Hawk’s fifth hole within 10 feet of the pin, leading to another birdie and a two-shot advantage.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was on it,” said Ruelas, who gave a double fist pump as she walked up the fairway on No. 5. “Everything was just on today. My irons were strong; my drives were strong.”
Khumnark started her back nine on the Desert Hawk course with two straight birdies to close the gap and had two chances in the final four holes to grab a share of the lead. The sophomore stuck her second shot on Desert Hawk No. 6 inside 10 feet and was even closer on No. 7, but she couldn’t make either birdie putt.
Khumnark then four-putted for double-bogey on the second-to-last hole to fall three shots behind Ruelas.
“I had high expectations for my score, but I’m really glad Amy won. She played brilliantly,” Khumnark said. “Things could have been different, but it’s golf. You have bad days, you have good days. Today just wasn’t my day, but there’s always next time.”
Isabella Martinez of Coronado finished fourth with an 81, followed by teammate Olivia Greenwald (86). The Cougars shot 332 to easily win the team title over Green Valley (390).
Both teams advance to the state tournament Wednesday and Thursday at Bear’s Best Golf Club. Along with Ruelas, Foothill’s Jourden Brown (87), Rancho’s Aubrianna Jordan (95) and Silverado’s Mary Kate Branigan (110) and Dezieree Mascarenas (114) qualified as individuals.
“It’s great to win, and the kids deserve it,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said. “We played well in spurts, but we didn’t do a very good job with our speed control on the greens. We had a lot of three-putts. Hopefully we can improve for next week.”
The good news for Faith Lutheran’s Julia Becker was she hit 17 greens in regulation. The bad news? The junior didn’t make one birdie.
“Definitely, putting was a problem,” Becker said.
Despite her struggles on the greens, Becker still shot 75 and cruised to medalist honors at Boulder Creek Golf Club. Grace Kang of Clark and Faith Lutheran’s Sarah Paravia each carded an 82 to tie for second.
Becker took advantage of her length off the tee and was able to take aim at several pins with short irons and wedges. She had 15 pars and three bogeys.
“I could have done a little better,” Becker said. “I just want to carry on the good tradition of girls golf at Faith.”
The Crusaders had three of the top five finishers and shot 332 to win the team title. Clark was second at 383, followed by Tech at 461.
All three teams advance to the state tournament Monday and Tuesday in Mesquite. Boulder City’s Jordyn Syler, who was fourth with an 84, advanced as an individual along with Moapa Valley’s Haley Nielson and Josie Delgadillo, and Pahrump Valley’s Jayde Woodworth and Natalie King.
Mountain View’s Rachel Horita leads at the midway point of the Division III state tournament at Toana Vista in West Wendover.
Horita shot 22-over 94 to lead Incline’s Devi Meyers by two strokes. Wells’ Kelsey Franco and Battle Mountain’s Jessica Jones are tied for third at 104.
Incline shot 431 to lead the team competition. Wells is second at 495. The final round is today.