(Editor’s Note: Montana State Media Release)
BOZEMAN — Kelly Hooper shot a 1-over-par 73 in the final round to finish in a tie for first in the individual standings at the Grand Canyon Invitational on Sunday, Feb. 25. The Montana State sophomore capped the tournament by earning outright medalist honors by defeating Utah Valley’s Carley Dehlin after two playoff holes.
Hooper shot a three-round total of 219 (70-76-73) which was the fourth-best mark in the women’s golf’s program history. It led to a playoff against Dehlin with each playing the 18th hole. Both birdied the hole the first time, but Hooper birdied it a second time and Dehlin made par to give MSU its first individual tournament title winner since 2013.
“I was very nervous,” Hooper said of the first-place playoff. “I think I’ve been in two playoffs my entire golf career.
“We both birdied the hole the first time and my hands were shaking over that putt so bad. I stuck my shot to about three feet when we played the hole the second time. I knew I put a lot of pressure on her which I was pretty excited about. I had a three-footer to win. I knew that I’ve hit those so many times in practice, so I was pretty confident about it.”
Hooper’s victory is the first of her collegiate career. It’s the 14th individual victory by a Bobcat in school history. She completed the win behind 10 birdies over the course of 54 holes and shot 2-under on the back nine during the third round.
“It was a position I’ve never really been in in a college tournament before,” Hooper said of being among the tournament’s leaders. “I was nervous, but I wasn’t too nervous which was kind of weird to me. I just went out with the mindset of “I’m going to go crush it. I birdied three of my first four holes today, so I was feeling pretty good about it.”
MSU senior Jaylee Tait eventually wrapped up the GCU Invite by finishing in the top 10 by tying for ninth overall. She completed the third round with an even-par 72, her second even-par round of the tournament which put her at a total of 223.
“I’m very proud of Jaylee,” Basye said. “She finished with a birdie to shoot a 72. Her and Kelly (Hooper) did awesome and they’re playing well. Now we have to get the team score.”
The Bobcats wrapped up the GCU Invite with a three-round 927 (299-324-304) and tied for ninth with CSU Bakersfield. Montana State finished one stroke ahead of Montana and one stroke behind Southern Illinois in the team standings.
MSU’s Delaney Elliott, Lilly Navarre and Coral Schulz rounded out the lineup Sunday. Navarre (243) and Elliott (243) each tied for 70th, while Schulz finished in a tie for 76th.
“I’ve got two girls that are rolling and if we’ve got two scores, if we can get two other good scores we have a chance to win a conference championship,” Basye said.
“We just have to keep working on pressure situations, competitiveness and when we’re down we have to be able to respond. For Kelly and Jaylee, this was a great golf course for them. This tournament helps us keep building.”
The Bobcats return to play on March 5 when they participate in the Battle at Boulder Creek. Montana State will be competing in Boulder City, Nev., at the site of the 2018 Big Sky Championship.