Lehi sophomore golfer Lila Galea’i started the 2019 Region 10 competition in good form, carding the only two scores in the 70s in the league in the first two tournaments.
She appeared to be on her way to a similar score in Tuesday’s contest at the Pioneer home course, Thanksgiving Point. She sat at 3-over-par (39) after the front nine holes.
And then the storm changed everything.
It’s often breezy at Thanksgiving Point but the storm the wind blowing steadily in the 25-30 mile-per-hour range with gusts that were even stronger. The rain started pelting down sideways as the temperature dropped.
“Coming off of the front, I didn’t do my best but I did pretty well for the back,” Galea’i said. “It was crazy with the wind in my face. By the end of the last holes, I was just thinking to do the best I can. My goal was just to get it in the hole.”
Just how bad did it get for these young athletes?
- Many golfers finished their final nine holes 10 strokes or more above their score from the first nine holes.
- Some scorecards were so soaked they couldn’t be opened.
- Players rode in from out on the course with hail pelting their faces.
- Some golfers were prying off wet golf gloves from frozen hands.
- One of the most popular spots in the clubhouse was huddled around the fireplace.
- A coach entered the clubhouse and walked through the golfers, declaring “Everyone is a winner today!”
“We moved up six of our tees today in preparation for this,” Lehi head coach Tele Wightman said. “We probably could’ve moved up a couple more. We had some tees that we moved into the fairway and we started earlier, hoping to get it in before the bad stuff came, but it came earlier than we thought. But it’s a big golf course and so it’s tough to get all the girls around walking. But they got through it. They are tough.”
Galea’i may not have matched what she shot in earlier rounds but her 84 was still the best score of the day.
“Physically you have to be strong but also you have to be strong mentally,” Galea’i said. “On one of the par-3s, it was about 125 yards out and I usually hit my pitching wedge. I came out with my 7-iron and I was still short. Going throughout this day, it was crazy so you had to make sure you were steady. Once the ball dropped on No. 18, I just felt relieved.”
She said that her threesome was all struggling, so it just came down to having fun.
“We had to hang in there and go through it,” Galea’i said.
Tuesday’s round might have been brutal due to the conditions but Galea’i is already showing just how well she can play. She said she is determined to raise her game.
“For spring break, I went out to the course really early – 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. – and stayed there until the sun went down,” Galea’i said. “I just kept working.”
Wightman said the sophomore has already played a lot of golf, so she is mature beyond her years when it comes to the game.
“She is seasoned,” Wightman said. “Even though she is a sophomore, she has played a lot of competitive golf. She’s put up a lot of good scores but now it’s just shaking the rust off. It’s been a tough spring. The season started later with the weather but I think once we get a good stretch and she gets the practice, she’ll put some good rounds up.”
He believes Galea’i has a great combination of power and skill, so as a coach he focuses on strategy.
“We talk about picking our places where we can be aggressive,” Wightman said. “Sometimes you just take what the golf course gives you and give yourself a better chance of making birdie and eliminate mistakes. I think right now she is just trying to learn how to limit those mistakes.”
She said her goal is to raise her performance level.
“I need to work on my mental game,” Galea’i said. “It’s more on the mental side than the physical side. I feel like I have a long game but I need to focus on how to be consistent and being good with course management, taking it one shot at a time.”