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Molly Schwartz of Douglas tees off on the sixth hole of the Sturgis Invitational at the Boulder Canyon Country Club Tuesday.

Weather has been the story of the girls' golf season, and Tuesday rain and lightning played a part in the start of the Sturgis Invitational at the Boulder Canyon Country Club.

After a weather delay, once the golfers got on the course, it was tight at the top. Molly Schwartz of Douglas ended up coming out on top with a nine-hole score of 40.

Spearfish's Lyric Williams was a close second at 41, and Aryona Watts from Hot Springs finished third with a 42.

"I was really happy about the round," Schwartz said. "It started raining when we were practicing before the tournament, so I didn’t get to practice any putting, but once I got the gist, I did really well, so I’m proud of it."

Chelsea Powles of Sturgis (44) and Sydney Olstad of Hot Springs (45) rounded out the top five.

Schwartz said that not being able to practice putting before her round set her back about three holes, but the other parts of her game were working well. Once she started to get the putting down, her score started to fall.

The sophomore also said she's seen growth in her game from her freshman season.

"What the rain does is it gets the ground really wet, so you take a lot of chunks in the dirt. You have to club up a little, and with the putting, the rain makes the greens slower, so I had to adjust to that," she said. "I’m really happy about my season. I know last season I didn’t do this well, so I just want to keep on progressing and see where it takes me."

The weather had a different impact for different players. For Williams, even though she finished second, the rain impacted her mentality.

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"It was difficult because of the rain, and the possibility of the lightning. It started out bad and ended up bad, but I was good in the middle," she said. "My short shots were getting better, that made it easier."

Watts, on the other hand, said the lightning delays actually helped her refocus after a bad first shot.

"I think it helped because I started with a really worried mindset because I had a bad tee shot," she said. "When we got called in and started over, I started doing good."

Watts and Schwartz, who played in the same group, were neck-in-neck going into the final hole. But Watts' first tee shot on the ninth hole sliced to the far left, into the woods and out of bounds. The two-stroke penalty ended up being the difference in Watts' and Schwartz's scores.

Still, Watts said she was happy with her round, and the junior said she's been happy with her development this season as well.

"All my chip shots saved me because I was pulling my irons. My tee shots were pretty good and my putting was good, but my chipping was my best," she said. "I think (this season) has had its ups and downs, but it’s the best season I’ve had, and I think as a team we’ll have a lot of opportunities at regionals."

The Bison continued their strong season as a team by capturing the title. They breezed through the tournament with a team score of 180. Lead-Deadwood finished second with 210, Spearfish took third with 213, Rapid City Stevens finished fourth with 243 and Douglas took fifth with 254.

The rest of the individual top-10 included Payton Sierra from Red Cloud and Madilyn Palo from Hot Springs tied for sixth with 46, Emily Fox of Lead-Deadwood and Malory Olstad of Hot Springs was tied for eighth with 47 and Paisley Sierra from Red Cloud rounded out the top-10 with 48.

Up next for most of the golfers will be the Black Hills Conference meet at Prairie Ridge Golf Course in Box Elder Thursday. 

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Contact Geoff Preston at geoffrey.preston@rapidcityjournal.com

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