LITTLETON - Pine Creek senior Mary Kate Nelson had quite a few "wow-factor" shots on Day 1 at the Class 5A girls' golf tournament. Some of those shots ran toward the cup as expected, others scattered into the sand and woods.
"That's golf for you," she smiled afterward. "I'm just trying to enjoy every moment of it."
On a sunscreen kind of Monday at Raccoon Creek Golf Course, Nelson knocked down a 45-foot putt, uphill, and pitched a 110-foot pitch within three feet of the pin - all before she was dealt some bad luck on her final hole of the day when two gorgeous-looking shots landed in hazards.
The three-time state qualifier finished her round tied for 14th, five shots off the lead at 8-over 80. Her teammate, junior Victoria Thompson, the only other area golfer at the 5A tournament, scored a 102 in her first state meet.
"This course is pretty difficult, especially these greens. They don't hold anything," said Nelson, who will play golf at Navy next season. "I think I played well and hit well today despite it. My score started reflecting how I was playing a little later in my round."
Until the end that is. Nelson had to take a drop on the final hole of the day after her lengthy drive landed a few feet out of bounds.
"I felt like Hercules on that drive; it just carried too far," Nelson said.
The Eagles senior went on to roll her penalty shot off the green into the bunker before she two putted for double bogey.
Most everything else was on par or better for Nelson. On her two birdies on the day, she adapted to the slick greens and sunk one of the longest putts of her career on her seventh hole, and then set herself up with a tap-in after she sat a long-pitch shot within shoelaces of the cup on her 16th hole.
"It was a 110-foot shot," Nelson said of her second birdie. "My coach (Shane Brown) said these greens are really fast so hit it 102? feet. So, I hit it 102? feet and it worked out nicely."
Nelson, who will go down as one of the best golfers ever at Pine Creek, said there is "no reason" she can't climb the leaderboard and finish in the top 10 after her final round on Tuesday.
"She is such an amazing player, but more importantly an amazing person," Brown said. "I'm happy she's enjoying the moment."