“It’s just so great to be out here!”
That was the consensus of golfers, parents and observers as they enjoyed the Fairways Magazine UJGA Preview at TalonsCove golf course in Saratoga Springs Wednesday and Thursday.
“I was really looking forward to this tournament because it might be one of the few I might be playing,” said Lila Galeai, a junior at Lehi. “It was really good to be there. I was super-excited to see all of the people that I usually play with and catch with them. Being on the course was super-fun.”
Galeai was locked in a duel with Berlin Long, a sophomore at Lone Peak, in the 15-18-year-old girls division with the two talented golfers tied at 4-under-par after 27 holes.
It was on the par-4 Hole No. 11 where Galeai made a big move as she drove the green with her tee shot. She then two-putted for birdie, while Long couldn’t get the putter quite locked in.
“I played better on the first day,” Long said. “I hit the ball well but I had four three-putts. I couldn’t quite get the speed of the greens, so that was definitely a bummer. But I still hit it pretty well.”
Galeai ended up with five birdies and just one bogey in the final nine holes as she pulled away to win the division with a score of 8-under-par.
“I started the round with double-bogey on the first hole,” Galeai said. “I needed to make sure I kept my cool. I knew I had a lot of good opportunities to make up for the mistakes. I remembered to be patient and just take it one shot at a time. On the back nine I had a lot of birdie opportunities. I was feeling pretty confident with my driver. I knew where I needed to miss if I didn’t hit my driver well but I was thinking positive.”
She said being able to win the tournament is a nice reward after trying to stay strong during all of the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had to make sure I kept practicing every day,” Galeai said. “After basketball season, I wanted to stay in shape to be out on the course so physically I wouldn’t be so drained.”
Long said that while she was disappointed that she didn’t finish as strong as she felt she could have, she felt like she gained some valuable insight into her game.
“It showed me what I need to work on to get ready for the next tournament,” Long said. “It was good to be able to get out and play, and see what parts of my game I need to improve right now. It’s also good to see that they can play, that they will take precautions so we can continue to have tournaments.”
The best part was being out there and getting to play in a tournament.
“It was definitely refreshing to be in a really competitive environment,” Long said. “We’ve been able to golf but getting out there was really fun.”
Both Long and Galeai said they enjoy every opportunity they get to compete against each other.
“I love playing with Berlin,” Galeai said. “She brings out the competitiveness in me. The way she plays, it makes me become a better player. Sometimes you forget you are competing. It’s super-fun to play with girls who are really good.”
Long said: “Lila and I have been really close and I always love playing with her. It was fun to get with our group because I haven’t seen them in awhile. I love playing with people who are fun and push me to be better.”
Galeai did recently get another win of a different sort.
She posted an Instagram video of her bouncing on her back on a trampoline and then using that force to launch a basketball clear across the yard and into a basket. That video ended up winning a social-media trick shot competition.
“I barely made the shot in time,” Galeai said. “It took me like two days to make that shot. It was fun to win.”
She added, however, that winning the golf tournament was a little more rewarding.
“Both were good because I came out with the same result — winning,” Galeai said. “But getting out on the course yesterday and today and playing with everyone, that was super-fun.”
Berlin Long’s younger sister Aadyn Long ended up winning the Girls 13-14 division with a score of 6-over-par, while Kihei Akina of Alpine won the Boys 13-14 division with a score of 5-under-par.
Things didn’t go as well for the Utah Valley golfers in the Boys 15-18 division but Caden Dunn of Eagle Mountain ended up tied for third with a score of even-par.