Her hitting was strong, but the putts weren’t dropping.
For the second year in a row, West Ranch’s Mack Bailey had a strong season, but when it really counted, the putts didn’t drop.
Bailey’s season ended Thursday at the CIF-WSCGA Foundation Southern California Girls’ Golf Championship, the qualifier for the state tournament. Just like last year.
At Arrowhead Country Club in San Bernardino, Bailey, who was the lone golfer representing the Foothill League, shot a 5-over-77. The cutoff was 72, which 12 golfers made.
The chances were there. In the first nine holes, she had eight birdie chances but just couldn’t finish.
“My approach shots were really good. I just couldn’t make the birdie putts,” the reigning Foothill League Player of the Year said.
She also added that they cut and rolled the grass, which may have affected her play.
Although Bailey has a strong mental game, Wildcats coach Jeff Holen noticed some early nerves at the start of the competition.
“I think she put a lot of pressure on herself that she had to do better than last year,” he said. “Her body language (was nervous) up front, but when she got out and started hitting the ball she wasn’t nervous.”
“I just took it one shot at a time,” Bailey said. “That’s all I did. I wasn’t overthinking about it before the round started. I try to stay focused.”
The junior golfer and her coach arrived in San Bernardino on Wednesday, a day early, to prepare for the event. Bailey had never played at Arrowhead before, so the extra preparation helped her feel more comfortable in the environment.
“Yesterday just helped me see where trouble was at,” Bailey said. “There weren’t any trouble holes. No blind shots. Everything was straightforward.”
On the bright side, the young golfer has one more chance to make it to the state tournament in her senior year. Her “player’s mentality,” as Holen put it, will hopefully push her to improve herself and her short game in preparation for next season.
“She’s a fighter,” the coach said. “On her last hole, she gave herself a birdie chance. She continues to fight until 18 holes are done. She gets angry, upset, but that’s what makes her better.”