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Young golfers power their way into Utah State Women’s Amateur quarterfinals

By Jared Lloyd daily Herald - | Jun 29, 2021
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BYU golfer Lila Galeai watches her drive during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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BYU golfer Lila Galeai watches her chip shot during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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Lone Peak golfer Berlin Long watches her putt during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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Lone Peak golfer Berlin Long hits a drive during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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BYU golfer Lila Galeai watches her putt during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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BYU golfer Lila Galeai hits her drive during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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Lone Peak golfer Berlin Long watches her putt during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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Lone Peak golfer Berlin Long and her coach, Clay Ogden, line up a putt during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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Lone Peak golfer Aadyn Long watches her shot during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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Lone Peak golfer Aadyn Long smiles as she talks to other members of her group during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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BYU golfer Lila Galeai drives her cart during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

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Lone Peak golfer Berlin Long watches her drive during the third day of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

Anyone who has followed youth golf in Utah Valley in the last few years knows that this generation has some special talents.

Evidence of that is played out on Day 2 of the 2021 Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington.

Three athletes from the area won a pair of matches to reach the quarterfinals — and all three are young stars:

  • Aadyn Long is the youngest as she will be a freshman at Lone Peak this fall.
  • Her older sister, Berlin Long, will be a senior at Lone Peak and has already committed to play at BYU.
  • The oldest of the group is Cougar golfer Lila Galeai, who would’ve just completed her senior year at Lehi High (she graduated early and played for BYU in the spring).

Each of the trio was challenged in the first two match-play rounds on Tuesday but found ways to emerge victorious.

In her first match against Madeleine Rasmusen, Berlin Long struggled on the front nine. She found herself down by two holes after No. 11.

“I was kind of in the trees all day,” Berlin Long said. “We were winning holes with bogeys and pars. No one was really making birdies. But on the back nine, I definitely turned it around.”

She knew she had to make up some ground if she wanted to give herself a chance to stay in the tournament.

She won Hole No. 12, then won again on Hole No. 14 to tie the match. That sparked the Knight golfer to go on a run and she closed out winning five of the last six holes, earning the 3-and-1 victory.

“It’s definitely about momentum,” Berlin Long said. “You get going and it just kind of keeps piling up. It can go the opposite way too, when you lose the momentum and it can get really hard. All it takes is getting a few putts to fall. Once I was able to get that, I was able to get some confidence.”

She rode that wave into her afternoon match against Jennifer Ensign, winning five of the first eight holes to build a four-hole lead.

“My front nine in my second round was so solid,” Berlin Long said. “My putter was the best I think it’s been in a while. I rolled my putts really well and made a lot of good putts. I was hitting good shots to give myself good putts.”

She had to fend off a rally by Ensign but did enough to get the 3-and-2 win and reach the quarterfinals.

Berlin Long’s second round kind of mirrored Aadyn Long’s first round.

The younger of the Long sisters built a four-hole lead on Alexis Hamel, only to see it evaporate on the back nine, forcing two playoff holes.

Aadyn Long was able to edge Hamel on the second playoff hole to survive and move on to face former BYU golfer Anna Kennedy.

Once again, Aadyn Long went up by four holes but Kennedy rallied to make things interesting down the stretch.

“I player pretty steady all day,” Aadyn Long said. “But she kind of turned it around on the back. I lost No. 12, then she (Kennedy) made a huge putt on No. 14.”

“Once you lose the momentum, you just have to try to fight to get it back,” Aadyn Long said. “The match was just crazy like that. It just goes off and on. I feel like you have to just kind of play your game.”

The Knight freshman made a key putt on No. 15 to slow Kennedy’s momentum, then closed things out by winning No. 16 and securing the 3-and-2 win.

“I’m excited,” Aadyn Long said. “I feel like I did a good job. I’ve just got to go make birdies and pars and I think I’ll put up a good fight. Hopefully I can win it. I think it’s really cool that I was able to make it this far.”

She explained that while being the youngest golfer in the field may mean there aren’t outside expectations, she has her own goals and objectives.

“No one really expects a lot from me so I feel like that just takes a lot of pressure off me,” Aadyn Long said. “But I feel like being the youngest doesn’t really change anything because I know my game is as good as anyone out here.”

Galeai had the least drama in her two matches as she was able to start fast and defeat Cougar teammate Kerstin Fotu in the first round, 4-and-2, then overcome a surge by Jobi Einerson in the second round and pull away to get the 5-and-4 win.

UVU golfer Macy Robertson and former Lone Peak golfer Madison Moss (who is at Southern Utah) both won their opening matches but lost in the Round of 16.

Now the three remaining local golfers will turn their attention to their quarterfinals matches. Aadyn Long will face Tess Blair (the 2018 champ), while Berlin Long will face Emma Winfree and Galeai will face Carissa Graft.

The winners of the quarterfinal matches — which start at 7 a.m. — will then play in the semifinals on Wednesday afternoon, gunning for spots in Thursday’s 18-hole finals.

All of the action will take place at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington.

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