Ari Acuff decided to go out and make a close Seymour Tournament a runaway affair at the top of the leaderboard. The Kickapoo senior shot an even-par 70, distancing herself from a sizeable field by 11 strokes.
Acuff, who dedicated her win to the departed gorilla Harambe and is just one month removed from taking home the Female Golfer of the Year award at the 1 Awards, topped her 2015 score at the same tournament (73) by three strokes.
“I’m definitely playing better than I was this time last year,” she said. “You can’t shave too many strokes [in one year], but I’m feeling pretty good going into the season.”
Greenwood senior Meredith Sharp finished tied for second with Central freshman Kourtney Tucker, shooting an 81. Tucker surprised even herself by medaling in her first high school tournament.
"This is the best I've ever shot, so I wasn't really expecting it," Tucker said. "I'm really happy about it in my first tournament. It's really cool."
Kickapoo took first overall with a team score of 359, followed by Nixa (362) and Glendale (374).
Sharp and Acuff highlighted the lead group, but a tough front nine for Sharp (+8) essentially ended things early.
“This was the first tournament I’ve played 18 holes in since state last year,” Sharp, who finished 25th at state in 2015, said. “I was only three over on the back nine so I was happy with that. My brain and my club were in two different places a lot. I was swinging across my body and all my shots were going left, but I think at the end I came through.”
A number of golfers were stymied by an exceedingly lush rough off the fairway, with some even losing balls on shots that didn’t seem all too bad off the club.
“They’ve grown [the rough] out a lot because they’ve been getting some good rain, so if you hit it into the rough, you’d really have to keep an eye on [the ball] or else you might lose it,” Acuff said. “I didn’t have too much trouble with it, but some people may have.”
The second-through-ninth place individual scorers were removed from each other by just six strokes and totaled 11 golfers due to ties:
1) Ari Acuff, Kickapoo – 70
2) Meredith Sharp, Greenwood, – 81
2) Kourtney Tucker, Central – 81
4) Alex Briscoe, Glendale – 82
5) Zoe Brown, Purdy – 83
6) JaiDee Akers, Nixa – 84
6) Olivia Ramsey, Nixa – 84
8) Wriley Hiebert, Glendale – 85
9) MeLeah Ridenour, Nixa – 87
9) Hannah Aherin, Ozark – 87
9) Yasmine Thomas, Marshfield – 87
9) Kayla Pfitzner, Springfield Catholic – 87
Team Tournament Top 5:
1) Kickapoo – 359
2) Nixa – 362
3) Glendale – 374
4) Ozark – 382
5) Greenwood – 383
STATS AND FACTS:
– Ari Acuff shot a 75 in Wednesday’s Camdenton Laker Invitational, finishing second.
-Nixa put up the most consistent numbers, with three golfers finishing in the mid-80s: Olivia Ramsey, 84; JaiDee Akers, 84; MeLeah Ridenour, 87.
-This was the second tournament all-time for first-year program Springfield Catholic. The Irish shot a 420 as a team, led by Kayla Pfitzner’s 87.
-This was the first-ever team tournament score for Purdy (414), led by Zoe Brown’s 83.
-Central freshman Kourtney Tucker had a heck of a debut, finishing tied for second with an 81 in her first-ever varsity tournament.
-Ainsley Acuff, sister of Ari Acuff, claimed to be Acuff's No. 1 supporter and biggest fan. Going on to say this: "She did god. She shot a 67 before, so hopefully we can get back to that. I'd shoot like a 687."