BOULDER | Class 5A individual state golf championships for the Bryant family this season: 2. Individual state golf championships for the rest of Colorado: 0.
Seven months after older brother Davis Bryant won the 5A boys golf state crown, Eaglecrest freshman Emma Bryant followed suit with a seven-shot victory Tuesday at Boulder Country Club.
Bryant came into the final round three shots off the lead, but rocketed to the top of the leaderboard with birdies on her first three holes, finished the front nine at 5-under-par and was off to the races on what turned out to be the largest margin of victory for a 5A state winner since 2013.
A birdie putt on the 18th hole — which tripped her up the previous day — put a cherry on top of the performance for Bryant, who finished with rounds of 73 and 70 to come in at 1-under-par for the tournament.
“At the time Davis won, I was so happy for him and then people were saying ‘it would be so cool if his sister won it, too,'” Bryant said. “I’ve been living in his shadow for a really long time, so to just make my own path feels so good.
“I felt like I had a lot of people I wanted to make proud. I wanted to make myself proud, all my family and my brother, my teachers and all the people at school. It’s just such a good feeling…Walking down 18 with all those people there, it was so cool.”
Indeed Bryant had a large gallery following her, which in part was her own family — her brother, her parents, two sets of grandparents, her uncle, two aunts and family friends, many who were also in town to see Davis graduate on Thursday — along with an armada of golf carts with people watching one of her playing partners, Fairview’s Kelsey Webster, who was playing her home course.
The gathered masses saw a stunning display of golf on the front nine, as Bryant began her round with three straight birdies and capped the front nine with two more birdies, including a 20-foot putt that dropped on No. 9 to go 5-under on the day.
“To shoot 31 on the front nine? It was like, this is her day, she’s playing really well,” her father, Matt Bryant said.
At that point, Emma Bryant had surged to a six-stroke lead over Webster and had a seven-stroke edge over her other playing partner, first round leader Katie Berrian of Regis Jesuit.
Bryant took double bogeys on Nos. 11 & 16 to come back to 1-under for the round, but still held a five-shot edge with two holes remaining. Eaglecrest assistant Justin Jajczyk never let Bryant know exactly where she stood, but encouraged her to finish strong.
A tee shot in the fairway on 17 — a day after she hooked one into the water — helped her make par and gave her a breather with one hole left.
“I was thinking, ‘I just want to finish strong, I really want this so badly,'” Bryant said. “I thought just hit it in the fairway, anywhere in the fairway, and the ball went into the fairway. So it was like ‘OK, here we go, it’s the home stretch, you’ve got this.’ The tee shot on 17 was big, it definitely gave me the momentum to finish strong.”
No. 18 tripped her up the previous day, but there was nothing stopping Bryant this time as she confidently finished off her day by sinking a putt for her fifth birdie of the final round.
“I told her par wins this, let’s just make sure we advance this, get it to pin high and give ourselves a makeable putt,” Jajczyk said. “She stepped up and said ‘You know what, I’m just going to bury this.’ It was crazy special. She’s a bulldog. She drove the ball incredibly well and made a bunch of putts.”
When it was over, Eaglecrest teammates Julia Shaver and Rian Nelson — state qualifiers themselves who helped give the Raptors a team score at state for the first time in program history — rushed onto the green and gave Bryant a hug.
It was a huge step forward for coach John Olander’s program.
“We had two amazing seniors who gave Emma a ride to practice every day, even though they only knew her a little bit through Davis,” Olander said. “All of our girls made it a great year for the program, but when you have a state champion in your program, that definitely takes it to a different level.”
Davis Bryant watched the whole final round with butterflies in his stomach and at the end couldn’t keep the smile off his face.
The only season the two siblings overlapped in high school was the year they both became their school’s first state golf champions.
“It was a lot harder on me today watching than me playing seven months ago,” said Davis Bryant, who won the 5A boys state tournament by two strokes.
“I would much rather play and at least have some control over it, but I’m sitting there watching putts hoping they go in. It feels so good for me to end my career the way I did and for how she started hers. It’s so cool.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Sentinel Prep Sports
2018 CLASS 5A GIRLS STATE GOLF TOURNAMENT
Team scores: 1. Cherry Creek 243-235 — 478; 2. GRANDVIEW 241-239 — 480; 3. Fossil Ridge 249-245 — 494; 4. REGIS JESUIT 240-262 — 502; 5. Ralston Valley 254-252 — 506; 6. Rock Canyon 253-254 — 507; 7. Highlands Ranch 251-257 — 508; 8. Arvada West 252-260 — 512; 9. ThunderRidge 255-259 — 514; 10. Broomfield 258-264 — 522; 11. Columbine 261-268 — 529; 12. Denver East 264-273 — 537; 13. Arapahoe 271-267 — 538; 14. Legend 278-278 — 556; 15. EAGLECREST 284-294 — 578
Top 10 individuals (par 72-72 — 144): 1. EMMA BRYANT (EAGLECREST) 73-70 — 143; 2. MORGAN RYAN (GRANDVIEW) 77-73 — 150; T3. KATIE BERRIAN (REGIS JESUIT) 70-82 — 152; T3. Leigha Devine (Fossil Ridge) 78-74 — 152; T3. Payton Canon (Cherry Creek) 75-77 — 152; T3. Meghan Vogt (Broomfield) 75-77 — 152; T3. Kelsey Webster (Fairview) 71-81 — 152; 8. AMY CHITKOKSOONG (GRANDVIEW) 75-78 — 153; 9. Jenna Chun (Highlands Ranch) 75-79 — 154; 10. Brandy McClain (Rock Canyon) 77-78 — 155
Other Aurora results: 11. Brooke Kramer (Cherokee Trail) 80-77 — 157; T14. Amisha Singh (Smoky Hill) 83-78 — 161; T30. Skylar Cain (Regis Jesuit) 83-88 — 171; 37. Gabriella Ello (Cherokee Trail) 87-88 — 175; 38. Caitlin O’Donnell (Grandview) 89-88 — 177; 40. Emaan Adil (Regis Jesuit) 87-92 — 179; 59. Sasha Parker (Overland) 95-93 — 188; T60. Sydney Szarka (Grandview) 100-89 — 189; T64. Sarah McDevitt (Regis Jesuit) 93-98 — 191; 67. Julia Shaver (Eaglecrest) 94-98 — 192; 84. Rian Nelson (Eaglecrest) 117-126 — 243