SUNNYSIDE — The field was narrowed to the top seven, but barring incredible collapse, the Washington Junior Golf Association 16-18 girls state championship is Therese Warner’s to lose.
Warner, Kennewick, birdied six of the first seven holes, dominating Black Rock Creek Golf Course with a spectacular 7-under-par 65 to take an eight-stroke lead into today’s final round.
First-day leader Samantha Hui of Kennewick is a distant second at 142 and Ephrata senior Kenedee Peters remains in third, 10 strokes off the lead.
“I’ve been pretty steady. It’s nothing awful, but it’s not spectacular,” said Peters, who followed up Tuesday’s 71 at Meadow Springs Country Club with 73. “In situations like this, the pressure is really off of me. Anything can happen in the game of golf. I’ll just go out there and do whatever I have to do.”
The field started on the back nine at Black Rock Creek and Warner, who helped Southridge High School win a 3A state championship in 2016, made five straight birdies to open her round, making the turn at 6-under-par 30. She moved to 10-under-par with a birdie on No. 7.
Where Hui bounced around a bit, following her opening round 68 with 74, Peters, a two-time 2A state medalist, stayed the course with rounds of 71-73 to remain in third place.
Peters, who made it to the semifinals of the 116th PNGA Women’s Amateur and finished 20th in the U.S. Women’s Open Sectional qualifier earlier this summer, is playing as well as she ever has.
“Everybody wants that spectacular round. But I’m getting to the point where my average score is 70. That’s what I hold myself to. If you can stay consistent, you know that great round is going to come,” said Peters, who is headed to Washington State University. “I’m just really steady right now. I’m playing the most consistent golf I ever have. With that consistency, I just keep going lower and lower and lower.”
On Wednesday, on the familiar track at Black Rock Creek, Peters put up back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15 holes to make the turn at 3-over-par. But she did get back in the groove, like she did in winning her second 2A medalist honor this past spring, with a birdie to start the second nine. She gave one back on the par-5, third hole then made back-to-back birdies on six and seven to finish 2-under-par on the final four holes.
“Today was about coming back. You couldn’t hardly see anything because of the smoke. We were sweating bullets because of the heat and I started out 3-over,” Peters said. “I really, really had to fight back. Back-to-back birdies was such a nice way to end a round. It gave me a little bit more confidence, like OK you can do this.”
Today’s championship will be decided on the 5,900-yard, par-72 Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland.