A solid finish with the highlight of an otherwise tough round of golf for Lia Thomas in the girls state finals tournament Friday at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
"At that point it was kind of too late, but it always feels good to end on a good note," said the Michigan City junior. "I don't know what the difference was between today and my practice round. It was a struggle."
Thomas, who logged a 14-over-par 86, managed to string three pars on her last three holes to close on a positive note. The scorecard otherwise featured plenty of squares, denoting bogeys, and no circles (birdies).
"Putting was a big factor again," she said. "I just didn't have the feel I had at the regional. I had a lot of mis-hits, more bad shots than good shots. I wasn't bad off tee, my approaches were fine. My main struggle was my longer irons. I hit into a bunker on the first holes and that cost me some shots. I should've listened to my own advice. It was mainly three bad holes."
Playing in the first group out, Thomas posted four bogeys and two doubles on the front and four bogeys and one triple, an 8 on the par-5 13th, where she found water and sand, on the back. She parred the other seven holes. The 86 came with 43s on both sides.
"I'm really excited for (the second round)," Thomas said. "I hope I bounce back."
M.C. teammate Taylor Skibinski had an even more eventful day on her way to an 89. Playing in the final threesome to go off on the back nine, her start included a pair of 7s among three double bogeys with a birdie on the par-4 17th as she, like Thomas, carded a 43.
"I was about 90 (yards out), it started out right, then hit a hill and went left to about three feet," Skibinski said.
The front nine featured four bogeys and three doubles en route to a 46.
"Off the tee, I couldn't hit my driver, my 3-wood straight," Skibinski said. "I started hitting my 5-iron and it was OK, but it was leaving me 140, 150 in (to the hole). I was finding all the sand. I wasn't even nervous. I just took it like a normal tournament."
Thomas (T-43) and Skibinski (T-56) weren't alone in their troubles. Delaney Adams' 84 for Crown Point marked the best round of the 12 Northwest Indiana players in the field. Lake Central's Danielle Colantuono shot 85. Both teams had two golfers shoot over 100 as CP came in 11th and LC 12th among 14 teams for the first round. Homestead's Morgan Dabagia (-2) and Katie Kuc of Carmel (-1) were the only players out of the 100 in the tournament to break par.
"It was pretty surprising," Thomas said. "A lot of others struggled."
Skibinski hopes to take six or seven shots off her score today.
"In the 70s would be nice, but low 80s, I'd be fine with that," she said.