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Kaui leads Gators’ charge to first-day lead

RENO — Green Valley golfer Alex Kaui’s best round ever was a 67 during practice for a tournament last year.

After she nestled an 8-iron to within 8 feet on the 18th hole Monday and nailed the putt, that record was shattered at perhaps the best possible moment.

Kaui carded an 8-under-par 64 to lead by seven strokes in the Class 4A girls state golf tournament at Hidden Valley Country Club.

“Everything was falling,” said Kaui, who had just 25 putts on the round. “I was literally making every putt I had. Even though I was 20 feet away, I’d still make it in.”

Kaui, who won the Sunrise Region tournament last week, broke the single-round state record for score in relation to par. In-Bee Park of Bishop Gorman shot a 6-under 65 in 2004 and Douglas’ Bethany Wooster carded a 6-under 66 in 2008.

The two-round record for a winning score is 6 under, meaning Kaui will own that mark as well if she shoots at least par today.

Kaui’s teammate Jenny Hahn, the defending state champion, shot 71 to help the Gators (298) take a healthy lead over Faith Lutheran (346), which was led by Annie Freman’s 77.

But the day belonged to Kaui, who had nine birdies and one bogey. The sophomore hit 16 greens in regulation, which led to all the birdie tries.

Her best putt came on the 17th hole, where Kaui had a 30-footer from the top shelf of the green to the lower portion. Kaui struck it softly and aimed about 4 feet left, she said, and the ball drained perfectly into the cup.

“Sixty-fours don’t come around that often,” Green Valley coach Greg Murphy said. “That’s a special round any way you put it.”

Kaui birdied four of her first six holes. She hit a wedge on No. 10 to within 2 feet from about 100 yards out.

Kaui hopes to keep the momentum going in today’s final round.

“I’m just going to try and shoot as low as I did (Monday),” she said.

Arbor View’s Kiley Ballew and Silverado’s Brittany Whatley are tied for third at 74, followed by Freman.

■ CLASS 3A — Boulder City’s Randi Lewis and Indiana Mead held the top two spots after the opening round of the Class 3A girls state golf tournament at Ruby View Golf Course in Elko.

Lewis shot 6-over 78 to take the individual lead, with Mead three strokes back in second.

The Eagles also hold the team lead at 337. Second-place Elko is 17 shots back.

The final round begins at 10 a.m. today.

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