If anything, Baylee Hammericksen felt like her start to Wednesday’s round in the Phoenix Tournament at Centennial Golf Club was a little flat.
That all changed in short order for the two-time state champion girls golfer from St. Mary’s High, and in ways she could hardly imagine.
Hammericksen set a new women’s course record Wednesday with an 8-under 64 at Centennial and also established a new personal-best mark.
“It was amazing, it really felt good,” she said of a breakthrough moment that included one eagle, six birdies and 11 pars.
The Oregon-bound senior standout shot a 65 at Running Y Ranch Resort in Klamath Falls as a sophomore in 2019, and she wasn’t far off that mark with a 66 in the first round of last summer’s Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships at Centennial.
The previous women’s course record of 65 at Centennial was set by Elisabeth Bernabe during the American Junior Golf Association tournament on Aug. 16, 2010.
The thing is, Hammericksen could’ve gone even one stroke better, she half-jokingly lamented Wednesday.
Her round, which started for her via a shotgun start on the 10th hole, finished on No. 9 with a 6-foot right-to-left sidehill putt for birdie that just missed its mark for a potential 63.
“I just overplayed it unfortunately,” she said in true competitive fashion. “That will keep me up tonight, that’s for sure.”
Such a reaction elicited a laugh from her St. Mary’s coach Kevin Klabunde, but is in true form for Hammericksen, who set the Oregon 4A/3A/2A/1A state record for the lowest recorded two-day score with a 5-under 139 as a sophomore but had to sit idly by last spring when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of her junior season.
“When I came off of my last hole I actually was a little bit disappointed,” said Hammericksen after that elusive final birdie, “But now that I’m further removed from it, I couldn’t be happier.”
“I just get very competitive and so I was like, oh, I really could’ve just taken it one step further, that’s just the competitor in me,” she added. “But at some point I did realize that, OK, 64 is a great score on its own.”
Not surprisingly, Hammericksen was able to walk away with medalist honors in Wednesday’s tournament, with junior sister Riley Hammericksen finishing in a tie for second place with Bandon’s Cassie Kennon at 76. A back-nine tiebreaker went to the younger Hammericksen, 37 to 38.
The Crusader girls were able to easily outpace the field, which had only two other complete teams, by posting a 336 total thanks to efforts from Ainsley Dunn, who tied for fourth at 96, and Brigit Hovleman (100).
North Valley finished second at 431, followed by Klamath Union’s 457.
In the boys tournament, Coquille’s Carter Borror earned medalist honors with an 80, edging North Valley’s Cruz Kilborn by one stroke.
Cannon Anderson of Cascade Christian was the top local boys finisher after placing ninth with a 98 to edge teammate Jacob Rheault (99). Those efforts allowed the Challengers to win the boys team title with a 409 total.
For Baylee Hammericksen, it all seemed to come together on her fourth hole of the day, the 220-yard par-4 13th hole. Using a 3-wood, she drove to within 8 feet of the hole and calmly deposited the ensuing putt for eagle.
“I got that eagle and then right after that it was just bam, bam, bam, bam,” said Hammericksen. “That was kind of the point where it clicked and everything started to come together from there.”
She posted birdies on hole Nos. 14, 16 and 17 and used pars on the 15th and 18th to finish 6-under-par for her opening nine holes.
While the 13th hole provided the spark to big things, her birdie on the 17th hole offered the confidence that anything could happen Wednesday. After hitting a wedge into the green that Hammericksen described as “not good,” she dialed in a 40-foot putt for birdie to walk away almost in disbelief from the instant reversal of fortune.
“It was a fun little confidence-booster moment for me,” said Hammericksen. “That was one where I made it and just sat back and laughed. When does that ever happen? When do you just sink a super-long putt for birdie like that? It was super funny.”
Hammericksen capped her round with birdies on hole Nos. 2 and 8 for a 2-under final nine tally.
“It was kind of just a combination of everything coming together,” she said of her round. “On every single hole I was able to give myself a legitimate birdie opportunity, and my ball-striking was just really coming together. Even if I hit a shot that wasn’t necessarily great, it’s like my putter came through in the perfect moment and I’d sink a long one or put myself in position to have a two-putt birdie or something. For whatever reason, everything just came together.”
Hard work also played a part for Hammericksen, who won the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships and the Southern Oregon Golf Championships last summer and placed second in the Oregon Golf Association Stroke Play and Public Links championship.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time out at the course, staying late after practices and putting in the work,” she said. “Golf is not a game where you get instant results, it’s something where you gradually put in things and after a long period of time you start to see the changes. To finally get to that point was incredibly gratifying. I’ve been working on this for a long time and I’m finally starting to see it come together the way I’ve always pictured it coming together and, as an athlete, that was incredible.”
“You always want to be perfect and everything and especially in a sport like golf that’s never going to happen,” added Hammericksen, “but when you have days like this then it’s like, OK, that’s about as close as it’s going to get, and that’s pretty nice.”
Centennial Golf Club
TEAM SCORES: Cascade Christian 409, Klamath Union 435, North Valley 442, Rogue River 510, Phoenix 546. Incomplete: Brookings-Harbor, Coquille, Hidden Valley, Myrtle Point, Triad, Sutherlin.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 5): 1, Carter Borror, Coq, 80; 2, Cruz Kilborn, NV, 81; 3, Josh Serna, Bro, 83; 4, Rylan Bruce, Bro, 85; 5, Kardin Hardin, Sut, 87.
Local Team Scores
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (409): Cannon Anderson 49-49—98, Jacob Rheault 50-49—99, Kellan Kleker 52-52—104, Gavin Ulrich 49-59—108.
ROGUE RIVER (510): Asher Brotherton 47-60—107, Jeffrey Simpson 66-62—128, Jesse Smith 64-73—137, Tony Isom 64-73—137.
PHOENIX (546): Garrett Walker 62-57—119, Kyle Braun 56-66—122, Michael Hawn 75-77—152, Hayden Hicks 76-77—153.
TEAM SCORES: St. Mary’s 336, North Valley 431, Klamath Union 457. Incomplete: Bandon, HIdden Valley, Myrtle Point, Phoenix, Rogue River, Coquille, Triad.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 5): 1, Baylee Hammericksen, SM, 34-30—64; 2, (tie) Riley Hammericksen, SM, 39-37—76, and Cassie Kennon, Ban, 38-38—76; 4, (tie) Ainsley Dunn, SM, 45-51—96, and Brenna Sackett, NV, 51-45—96.
Local Team Scores
ST. MARY’S (336): Baylee Hammericksen 34-30—64, Riley Hammericksen 39-37—76, Ainsley Dunn 45-51—96, Brigit Hovelman 45-55—100.
PHOENIX (Inc.): Kaia Eikenberry 54-59—113, Ruby Rector 57-60—117, Lily Bulux 70-72—142.
ROGUE RIVER (Inc.): Lily Schloegi 74-73—147.
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