By Jeremy McDonald
AUMSVILLE, Ore.–For the past few years, winning the event actually the last four times it’s been put on, the Lady Saxon Golfers have taken part in the SAYGolf Tournament to start the season.
“It’s a cool tournament put on by the Salem Area Youth Golf organization and it’s good to support them and be apart of that,” said South Salem Head Coach Brian Eriksen. “And they put on a great tournament here at Sanitam (Golf Course). It’s a fun course to get started the season for the girls.”
The Top 2 golfers that the Saxons have this year include defending State Championship winning golfer in Ellie Slama and Ashley Zhu close behind her as their number 2 golfer to help set the pace for the South Salem Lady Golfers this year.
“They’ve been really good to start off the season. They’ve been both vocal leaders, they’re both team co-captains of this team and they both bring different qualities to this team,” said Eriksen. “They’ve done a great job. I expect that all year long, Ellie being the defending State Champion, it’s neat to have that coming back but it’ll out a little pressure on her that way.
“But it’ll be fun to see how she handles it and Ashley, she’s pushing (Ellie) and everyone else in the State. So it’s a great group, it’s a great group of kids. They’re fun to be around win or lose. It’s going to be a fun year.”
And with the season starting off and though they’ve won this event three times before, winning it a fourth time would present a unique challenge for the Saxons in more than their grouping assignments in the weather.
In what started as a light drizzle slowly turned into a rain and downpour at times as they made their round around the green and the course.
But, with the weather causing some issues on the playing surface had cut the 18-hole event down to nine during the tournament as South manage to stay in front of Sprague (66) and Taft (85) to win their fourth SAYGolf Title.
“It’s really exciting to get our fourth win dating back to 2013,” said Eriksen, the event was canceled one year in the process of their four wins. “We have have some great kids come through the program and it’s great to see the consistency.”
But it wasn’t Slama won took the individual crown though she finished second with a 39 score; instead it was teammate Zhu who took the honor of the individual crown with a 36 round.
Mak Gentry had a strong performance as the team’s number 3 golfer Monday, shooting a 57 while Rylie Tiffin and Zia Habekost both shot 75 and 73 respectively during the rain-shorten course as their Head Coach was impressed with how they met the adversity of the weather.
“They played very well,” said Eriksen on his team. “Ellie and Ashley led the team with outstanding play. Zia, Mak and Rylie did a great job in treacherous conditions. I’m excited how they came out strong as a team and look forward to seeing them continue the strong effort throughout the rest of the season.”
As they head home for the night, they’ll have a few days to heal up and prepare for their next tournament with the Greater Valley Conference Monday at McMinnville’s Michelbrook Golf Course at 11:30am.
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