BOULDER – Eaglecrest’s Emma Bryant kept it all in the family at the Class 5A girls golf state championship, swiftly dropping long putts, as well as her score, in a mesmerizing final round at Boulder Country Club.
The Raptors' freshman celebrated a state golf title only eight months after her brother Davis did the same in the boys’ season. Back three strokes of the lead heading into the last day, the young and bright-eyed Bryant posted a 2-under-par 70 Tuesday to finish 1-under for a seven-stroke victory.
Unaware of where she was on the leaderboard throughout the day, Eaglecrest coach Justin Jajczyk waited until the No. 18 green to finally break the news.
“As long as you don’t seven putt this, you got this,” Jajczyk grinned as he told her.
For good measure, she sunk a six-foot birdie to end it.
“That was the first time I’ve ever gone under par in a round,” Bryant said.
And what timing it was. Bryant gave Eaglecrest its second golf title of the year after the senior Davis won the 5A boys’ title by two strokes at CommonGround Golf Course in October. Big brother told his sister just to play the golf course and not the competition coming into the final day.
“He said if you try your best and don’t win there’s nothing you can do about it,” Bryant said. “I definitely tried my absolute hardest today.”
The freshman began the round with five birdies in her first nine holes and was 5-under on the day heading into the back nine. The only major hiccup came with a double bogey on No. 16, but Bryant answered with a par and birdie to comfortably hold off the field.
Grandview’s Morgan Ryan finished second with a tournament score of 6-over and five golfers tied for third at 8-over.
“It’s unbelievable for her to be a freshman and to be this mature, this grown up, this fantastic of an individual, is a testament to her, a testament to her family,” Jajczyk said. “It’s crazy special.”
Cherry Creek won its 11th girls’ golf title in history and the first since 2013. The Bruins came into the day third in the team standings but rose up the leaderboard with strong play from Alyssa Chin, Kaylynn Xia and Rachel Penzenstadler, and a strong finish from Payton Canon (8-over).
Cherry Creek (46-over) went back and forth with Grandview atop the leaderboard on Day 2. The Wolves finished two strokes back at 48-over.
“The persistence and the adversity this team faced over these two days was key,” Cherry Creek coach Randy Smith said. “We are not physically the most-talented team out here by far. There’s a lot of credit that goes to Grandview. … We knew they were going to be there in the end.”
The Bruins coaches kept the team scores away from their players during the round -- except senior Canon down the stretch.
“On (hole) 14, I asked, ‘How we doing?’ and he said, ‘It’s really close’,” Canon said. “I knew I just had to hit fairways and greens. Just play boring golf.”
Canon hit five pars on her final seven holes as “boring golf” was met by an exciting ending.
“(Coach) goes ‘Are your arms tired?’ and I go ‘No, my arms aren’t tired’,” Canon recalled of the final green. “He then goes ‘Well you’re going to have to muscle up some strength and hold a state title trophy.’ And that’s pretty cool.”