Faith Lutheran junior steady down stretch to win state title

LITTLEFIELD, Ariz. — Julia Becker made one big mistake on the front nine at Palms Golf Club.

The junior at Faith Lutheran made sure it didn’t happen again.

Becker resisted the urge to hit driver on three of her final six holes and avoided trouble as a result, finishing with a 4-over-par 75 on Tuesday to win the individual title at the NIAA Division I-A girls state golf tournament.

Becker had a two-round total of 151, nine strokes better than Fernley’s Brittany Evans (160). Kaily Beatty of Elko was third at 164.

“I just wanted to play steady and play smart,” Becker said.

Becker, who shot 76 on Monday at Oasis Golf Club’s Canyon Course, entered the final round with a one-stroke lead over Evans. Evans struggled on the back nine, which features elevation changes and narrower fairways. She carded an 83.

Becker took third at last year’s state tournament, which was won by her older sister, Brianna.

“It was a goal to be able to say I won state, too,” Julia Becker said.

Becker made three birdies to go with five bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-4 eighth hole. She tried to cut the corner with her tee shot, but ended up in the water on the left side of the fairway. After her drop, Becker’s third shot landed in the bunker short of the green and she was unable to get up and down.

“We had this sheet that said what the hole looked like, but it didn’t say there was water on it, so I didn’t know,” she said.

Becker came back with a birdie on the short par-5 No. 10 and closed strong, hitting an iron off the tee on Nos. 13 and 17 and a fairway metal on the 310-yard 16th hole. She shot 1-over 37 on the back nine.

“Length is a tremendous advantage for her, and she’s learned that there’s times she has to temper that length for the course,” Crusaders coach Mark Cheney said.

Faith Lutheran shot 327 to win its second straight team title. The Crusaders finished with a two-round total of 676, beating runner-up Clark by 61 shots. Senior Bri Yee fired a career-best 76 — one of only three players to break 80 during the final round — and finished fifth at 168 for the Crusaders.

“I’m very satisfied because we played better today,” Cheney said. “That’s our second-best score of the year, and to do it at the state tournament is even more satisfying.”

Clark junior Sabrina Ho finished fourth at 166, and sophomore Grace Kang bounced back from a first-round 93 to shoot 79 as the Chargers finished at 734.

Ho shot 82 on Tuesday, and her round included a cruel double-bogey on the par-3 11th hole. Ho’s chip from out of the rough landed in the hole on the fly, but the ball spun out and rolled into the bunker to the left of the green.

“It sort of sucked, but it was funny at the same time,” Ho said. “I’m glad I provided some comic relief. … I was a little bummed out, but I was able to recover.”

Boulder City senior Jordyn Syler finished at 170 and won a scorecard tiebreaker with Sienna Scibird of Truckee for sixth place.

Contact reporter David Schoen at or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.

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