Girls golf: Durango and Discovery Canyon among teams to punch tickets to state

(Dan Mohrmann/

COLORADO SPRINGS — Discovery Canyon's Emily Cheng felt like so many putts could've dropped her at the Country Club of Colorado. The Pete Dye course is a tough place to putt as it is so when so many short or mid-range putts aren't falling, it can make for a long day.

Instead of fretting over it, she decided to just sink a long birdie putt on 17. Her tee shot carried to the front of the green giving an uphill look with a slight break toward the water that's on the north side of hole. Pueblo South's Zoey Rodriguez missed the green as she clung to a one-shot lead. But she couldn't scramble for par while Cheng dropped her putt center-cup for birdie.

That turn of events allowed Cheng to card a two-over-par 73 to win the individual Class 4A Region 1 championship. Her round also paced the Thunder to a team title, a title that Cheng gets to share with her sister, Christina, who finished with a 77.

"I think we're heading to a team dinner (to celebrate)," Cheng said. "I love playing with my sister. We share so much because of golf and I love my team too. Everyone on there is my best friend."

The key to her round was never letting a bad situation get worse. She made birdie on the par five second hole and gave two strokes back before making the turn. She made bogeys on six and nine to go out in 37. She held a one-stroke lead over Rodriguez on the ninth tee, but that bogey put them both on top of the leaderboard at the turn.

Cheng's third bogey of the day came on 12 then three-putted for bogey on 14. And that was enough mistakes for the day. Cheng's tee shot on 16 was perfect and her approach gave her a short birdie putts, which she just missed.

"I knew I had to cut (my drive) a little bit because of the fairway looked," Cheng said. "I could've used a fairway wood but driver was more comfortable and I hit it perfectly and had about 80 yards into the green."

(Dan Mohrmann/

Rodriguez had built a two-shot lead after making a birdie on 15, but missed the green on 16. She ended up making her only double-bogey of the day there and put Chen within one stroke heading to 17.

That's when Cheng turned the tables.

"I've never been put in that position before in golf," Cheng said. "I hit a good putt; right where I wanted it to."

Overall, the Thunder had three of the top five finishers as Christina Cheng shot 77 and Lauren Jaworowski shot 80. Mena Song-Lew's 91 kept her in the top 10. After missing out on the entire season last year, it was a great way for the Thunder to head into the 4A state tournament at CommonGround in under two weeks.

"For them it's everything," coach Mark Liggett said. "They worked hard during COVID and they've worked hard all year. Now they just go out and have fun."

Discovery Canyon claimed the team title and Durango took the other team qualifying spot. Lilly Tichi was the top player for the Demons with an 85 but Zayda Mestas (91) and Natasha Walcott (96) both finished in the top 13 on the leaderboard.

"It was that we were consistent," Tichi said. "There was maybe on blowup hole and then just bogeys the rest of the way out."

(Dan Mohrmann/

Girls golf regional roundup:

4A Region 3:

Windsor and Niwot qualified as teams after solid rounds at Highland Hills. Timbre Shehee shot 79 to take medalist honors.

4A Region 2:

Sofia Choi paced Mullen to a team title with a 74. Bretton Ronlund shot 82 and Charlie Ruderman-Pratt fired an 88 to give help Denver North qualify as a team.

3A Region 2:

St. Mary's Academy freshman Maddy Bante led the way with a 77 to help her team claim the regional title. Faith Christian also qualified as a team with Green Porter setting the pace for the Eagles with a 79.

5A Southern:

More photos. (David Harvey/

Cherry Creek took the top two spots on the leaderboard as Rachel Penzenstadler shot 73 and Merielle Gojo shot 79. Legend finished as the other team qualifier as 2018 5A champion Emma Bryant finished fourth.

3A Region 1:

Jefferson Academy's Aubri Braecklein got herself into red numbers by firing a 69 at Hollydot. The Jaguars won the team title as Colorado Academy finished second behind Sage Phelps-Fast's 83.