Wildcats girls golf ready to wrap up titles

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West Ranch High’s Mack Bailey earned medalist honors for the third time in five matches Tuesday at TPC Valencia after shooting the lowest score at Foothill League No. 5, which doubled as Day 1 of the Newhall Cup.

She finished the day with a 1-under 35, followed by her teammate Ashley Mayhall (3-over) and Valencia’s Sarah Baranda (5-over). Baranda had a hole-in-one on the ninth hole.

The reason for Bailey’s success?

“I just think of myself,” Bailey said. “I just try to think about funny things of myself. Sometimes I hum my favorite song while walking to my next shot. I try to be chill.”

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The Wildcats were also the top team of the day, posting a score of 206. Valencia pulled in at second with a 225 and Saugus was third with a 259.

Entering Wednesday’s league finale, the Wildcats have a 55-stroke lead on Valencia in the overall team standings.

Bailey leads Mayhall by five strokes and teammate Noelle Song by eight in the individual standings.

Although West Ranch had both the best individual and team scores Tuesday, both Bailey and Cats coach Jeff Holen said they want West Ranch to be even lower in order to ready themselves for the postseason.

“Not everyone played their best, sadly,” said Bailey. “They left a lot of shots out there and had a few bad shots that led to big numbers on holes. We’ll get better tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow.”

Wednesday will be the Foothill League’s sixth match, a nine-hole competition. It’s also Day 2 of the Newhall Cup, in which the top nine players from Tuesday will play an extra nine holes for the event’s individual title.

Holen said that he is using the endurance of the Newhall Cup’s back-to-back days, as compared to the other one-day matches of the season, to prepare for the future.

While his top three golfers — Bailey, Mayhall and Noelle Song — have multi-day tournament experience, the other three do not.

“It’s a process of getting them mentally fit. But when you go on to play CIF, (you play nine holes, then) you’ve got to play nine more holes after that. It’s a process,” Holen said.

The rough gave many golfers difficulties throughout the afternoon Tuesday. Holen said that at some places it was even difficult to see the ball because the grass was so high.

“With the way the rough is, I’m going to encourage them to keep it in the short grass,” he said. “Get it out and use the short game and use chipping and putting to keep the scores low.”

The team is focused on using the challenges of the two-day event to prepare for a strong postseason run, but Bailey’s goals are more short-term at the moment.

“I’m not going to worry about what’s happening individually,” she said. “Right now I’m not worried about if I’m going to be medalist in the valley. I’m just worried about being medalist tomorrow.”

Play begins Wednesday at noon at TPC Valencia.

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