Minnesota Golf Association

McCauley Fires 69 to Run Away With Minnesota Junior Girls' Championship

June 30, 2020

By Nick Hunter
  EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Getting her first taste of competitive golf since last fall's Minnesota Golf Champions, Isabella McCauley's game showed very little rust this week, firing a 2-under 69 Tuesday at Bent Creek Golf Club to claim a five-stroke victory over her younger sister, Reese, at the 75th Minnesota Junior Girls’ State Championship.
Beginning the final round in a three-way tie for the lead with her sister and Aayushi Sarkar, a steady and patient Isabella McCauley jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a birdie at the sixth before pulling away from the field with a string of birdies to begin her back nine to claim her fourth state victory.
“[This week] says a lot about my preparation and being ready for this tournament. Seeing that pay off was really exciting,” Isabella McCauley said. “I practice all winter and this spring I’ve been grinding and after my practice round here, I knew what shots I needed to work on.
“The biggest key was staying in the fairway. Bent Creek is a tight course, a hard course, so staying in the fairway was key. I was never in water and never OB, so that was a huge help. Then hitting some close approach shots so I was able to make some birdies.”
Playing at their home course together nearly 60 times already this season, Tuesday’s final round was the first time the two sisters, and teammates at Simley High School, have battled head-to-head in a tournament on the golf course.
“It was business as usual. On 16 I said how much fun it was to play with her and she felt the same way,” the elder sister said. “I hope we can play more competitive golf together in the future.”
Strong storms delayed the opening round by more than four hours Monday, as players were faced with hot and soggy conditions during both rounds.
“It was still pretty wet, a little drier than yesterday,” Isabella McCauley said. “Balls were spinning back—usually mine doesn’t spin backwards, but I was seeing a little bit of that today. It was good because you could be a little more aggressive and go at pins more.”
She grabbed sole possession of the lead thanks to her birdie from 10 feet at the par-4 sixth before sinking a tester for par at the eighth to maintain her slim margin. Running into trouble at the ninth, McCauley escaped with a bogey and quickly took control of the final round.
“On nine on got in some trouble, but I had to get up-and-down for bogey and that really set the momentum, putting-wise going into the back nine. After a birdie on 10 I felt like I was able to get it going.”
After a tap-in at 10, Isabella McCauley’s lead increased to three when she sank a 20-footer at the 11th. Playing her final seven holes in even par, Isabella McCauley cruised to a five-stroke victory.
“I was able to get the ball a little closer to the hole today and give myself a better look at birdies, which definitely helped. I was able to stay away from [double-bogey] and made a few less bogeys.”
Claiming her first state championship at the Minnesota Junior PGA Players’ Tour Tournament of Champions in 2018, Isabella McCauley scorched the field at the 2019 Class AAA state tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Club, notching a 10-stroke victory at 9-under 135 to set a new tournament-low.
Her most recent victory came at last year’s Minnesota Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, where she earned a two-stroke victory over Sophia Yoemans at The Jewel Golf Club.
“This is huge. I was super excited coming into this event and knew I had a good chance at winning. You never know with golf, but I was looking forward to putting down a good score and this means a lot,” said McCauley, who will begin her junior year this fall.
Reese McCauley took the early lead Tuesday when her birdie chance from the front of the third green, 30 feet away found the bottom of the cup. She would relinquish the lead for good when she was unable to get up-and-down for par on the ensuing hole.
Over a four-hole stretch during her back nine, Reese McCauley fell as many as six shots at one point but finished strong by sticking her approach inside of two feet on the final hole to post a 3-over 74, finishing second at 146.
“We were probably a little more focused and a little more engaged today, but overall, it was actually really fun and to play with someone that I know. We both played pretty well,” Reese McCauley said of playing in the final group with her sister.
“I had a couple lip-outs and a couple bad shots, but I also had some really good ones. [Moving forward] I know I have to keep focused and play one shot at a time. My short game was pretty good this week and I made some good birdies.”
Sarkar, a recent Woodbury High School graduate who will begin her collegiate career at Drake University later this year, ran into trouble late and would card a final-round 78 to finish third at 150, while Josalynn Abbott’s final-round 75 earned her a fourth-place finish Tuesday.

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