Another 70 Puts McCauley in a Tie for 1st at the Notah Begay Tournament
November 14, 2021
KINDER, La. -- Bella McCauley came up with another strong finish on Sunday -- 2 under for her last seven holes -- in the second round of the Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship. The result was a 2-under-par 70 on the Koasati Pines course at Coushatta, and that gave the 17-year-old from Inver Grove Heights a 36-hole total of 140 and a share of the first place in the Girls 14-18 Division.
She's tied with Lydia Swan, who followed a first-round 69 with a 71.
McCauley and Swan are both high school seniors, and both signed National Letters of Intent last week, McCauley signing with the University of Minnesota and Swan with Oral Roberts.
Suzie Tran, a sophomore from Poulsbo, Wash., is one stroke behind, in third place at 141 after a 70. Another sophomore, Carolyn Fuller, also posted a 70, and she's tied for fourth at 142 going into Monday's final round, along with a junior, Carolyn Fuller (70), and a ninth-grader, Kaila Elsayegh (71).
McCauley, who became the first female to win the Minnesota Golf Champions in October, got off to a less-than-stellar start on Saturday. Having begun her first round on the 10th hole, she bogeyed the par-4 13th and the par-3 16th, but she birdied the par-5 18th and added three more birdies on the front nine -- at the par-5 first, the par-3 third and the par-4 fifth -- on the way to an opening 70.
On Sunday, she made two birdies and two bogeys in the first 10 holes, before making birdies on both of the par 3's on the back nine -- Nos. 12 and 16.
McCauley, who is home-schooled but plays for the Simley High School team, won the Class AAA championship at the 2020 state high school tournament, but she wasn't able to defend her crown this spring. In May, she became the youngest qualifier from Minnesota for the U.S. Women's Open. But the Women's Open was played the same week (June 3-6) as sectional qualifying for this year's state high school tournament, and the Minnesota State High School League doesn't give exemptions to defending champions.
So McCauley was relegated to the status of spectator, but there was a happy ending -- because her sister Reese, a ninth-grader, won the AAA girls championship.
(Bella shot 79 in the first round of the Open, at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, but she came back with a 1-under 70 in the second round. Her 36-hole total of 149 missed the cut by two shots. The defending champion, A-lim Kim, missed with a 148.)
Swan has also won a state high school title. Actually, she has three state championships to her credit. She won the Pennsylvania AA gilrls individual championship in 2019, and the North East girls team that she plays for won a state title. So, too, did the Grape Pickers boys team that she played on.
On Saturday, Swan had quite the roller coaster ride in her opening 69. She made two birdies and a bogey in her first seven holes, then birdied four holes in a row, beginning with the ninth, and she followed that birdie binge with three bogeys in the next four holes (13, 14 and 16), before adding another birdie -- her seventh of the day -- at the 17th. The par that she made at the 18th was only her second in the last 10 holes that day.
By comparison, her second round was pretty much ho hum. She birdied the fifth, bogeyed the sixth and birdied the eighth. A bogey at the par-3 12th dropped her back to even par for the day, but she birdied the 15th.
Last year, McCauley led this tournament after an first-round 68. She was overtaken the next day, when Allyn Stephens shot a 65, and Stephens added a 69 to win the tournament by three strokes over McCauley. Stephens, like McCauley, is a high school senior this year, and she is playing in the Notah Begay Junior again, but she is tied for 15th, nine behind the co-leaders at 149 (76-73).
There is one other Minnesota girl in the 14-18 Division. Kate Burke, a junior at Edina, is tied for 33rd at 160 after a second-round 78.
Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship
At Koasati Pines at Coushatta
Par 72, 5,968 yards
Second-round results for the Girls 14-18 Division
T1. Bella McCauley, Inver Grove Heights 70-70--140
T1. Lydia Swan, North East, Pa. 69-71--140
3. Suzie Tran, Poulsbo, Wash. 71-70--141
T4. Kalia Elsayegh, Pacific Palisades, Calif. 71-71--142
T4. Carolyn Fuller, Phoenix 72-70--142
T4. Ali Mulhall, Henderson, Nevada 72-70--142
T15. Allyn Stephens (defending champion) 76-73--149
T33. Kate Burke, Edina 82-78--160