Minnesota Golf Association

McCauley Makes 67 Look Easy; Chanhassen 1st Among AAA Girls Teams

June 11, 2019

By Mike Fermoyle (mikefermoyle@gmail.com)

COON RAPIDS -- If someone had suggested before last year's state high school golf tournament that a middle school girl would win the Class AAA title, the obvious choice would have been Isabella McCauley. But the Smiley eighth-grader, who hadn't posted a score higher than 74 all season, suffered through a disastrous first round of 6-over-par 78 at Bunker Hills. She recovered enough on the second day to shoot 72, but the result was a sixth-place finish. That's actually pretty impressive for an eighth-grader, but it was a disappointment for McCauley.

The winner, as it turned out, was Blaine seventh-grader Kathryn VanArragon. Having qualified for the state tournament with a 36-hole sectional total of 160, she came into the state tournament under the radar. But playing in familiar surroundings at Bunker Hills, which is her home course, she went straight to the top of the leaderboard with an opening round of 70 and followed it with a solid 73 to win AAA girls crown by three strokes over Northfield junior Molly Stevens.

"I was so nervous before the tournament last year," McCauley, now a ninth-grader, recalled on Tuesday. "I put way too much pressure on myself." 

She wasn't about to make the same mistake again. Adopting a more relaxed attitude this year, she basically put on a clinic Tuesday, hitting 17 greens in regulation and making five birdies while shooting about as easy a 67 as you could imagine, and staking herself to a three-stroke lead. 

Vunnisa Vu, an eighth-grader at Roseville, had a bit of a roller-coaster ride on her way to a 70. She made three birdies in a row on her front nine -- Nos. 2, 3 and 4 East -- then bogeyed three of the next four holes -- 5, 6 and 8 -- before making birdies on both the back nine par-5's -- 11 and 14 West -- and finishing the day in second place. Chanhassen junior Courtney Wedin had five birdies to offset four bogeys and ended up with a 71, good for third going into Wednesday's final round. Last year's runner-up, Stevens, had an interesting stretch of bogey-bogey-birdie-birdie on her back nine (East) while shooting a 72, which has her all alone in fourth place.

As for the defending champion, VanArragon went out in 38 on the East Nine but came back in 35 on the West. So she's at 73 in a four-way tie for fifth, along with Woodbury junior Aayushi Sarkar, Chanhassen freshman Madi Hicks and McCauley's younger sister Reese, a seventh-grader. 

McCauley the Elder didn't make a single bogey. That made her the only player in Class AAA, in either the boys or the girls field -- to be bogey free at Bunker Hills on Tuesday. And it it wasn't as if she had any dramatic par saves. She never came close to making a bogey. Her longest putt for any of her 13 pars was 2 feet.

About the closest she came to making a mistake was missing a 6-footer for birdie on her ninth hole, No. 9 West. 

"I wasn't that disappointed with that putt," Isabella said afterward. "It was a really fast, downhill putt, and I didn't want to gun it 3 or 4 feet past the hole. I thought I hit a good putt. It just didn't go in."

McCauley came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in AAA by the State Coaches Association with a scoring average of 71.20 strokes per round. (VanArragon, at No. 2 with an average of 71.27, was the only other player averaging under 72.) She started her round in the rain with three pars, then made the first of her five birdies at No. 4 West, a 282-yard par 4, with a wedge to within 10 feet. The rain had stopped by the time she got to No. 7 West (360 yards, par 4), and she hit a 9-iron to 6 feet. She converted that for Birdie No. 2, and added two more pars to make the turn in 34. After not making a birdie on either of the West par-5's, she birdied both of them on the East, beginning with a 2-putt 4 at No. 4 (405 yards). A wedge to 10 feet resulted in a birdie at the other par-5, No. 6 (475 yards). She just missed a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 7 (133 yards, par 3), but made an 18-footer at No. 8 (320, par 4).

"I was in a really nice mental zone the whole round," she said. "I was so calm, and at peace, and just taking it shot by shot. That's always my goal. My putter was working, and I had the right speed on the greens, which always helps. I'll just try to do things the same way tomorrow." 

In the team competition, Chanhassen is the leader with a combined 309 (four of six scores count). Roseville is second at 313, and four-time defending champion Edina is lurking, seven behind Chanhassen in third place at 316.  

Minnesota State High School Tournament

Class AAA Girls

At Bunker Hills Golf Course

Par 72, 5,500 yards

Coon Rapids

First-round results 

1. Chanhassen               309

2. Roseville                     313

3. Edina                          316

4. Simley                        321

5. Brainerd                     333

6. Stillwater                   336

7. Lakeville North          341

8. Forest Lake               361


1. Isabella McCauley, Simley         67

2. Vunnisa Vu, Roseville                70

3. Courtney Wedin, Chanhassen   71

4. Molly Stevens, Northfield           72

T5. Aayushi Sarkar, Woodbury      73

T5. Kathryn Van Arragon, Blaine    73

T5. Madison Hicks, Chanhassen    73

T5. Reese McCauley, Simley         73

T9. Emma Welch, Lakeville North  74

T9. Olivia Salonek, Roseville          74


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