By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Olivia Sanders just become the poster child for listening to parents.
With her father Aaron (who is also the Bedford North Lawrence girls golf coach) at her side as caddy and coach, Sanders fired back-to-back rounds of 74 to win her first Bedford Women’s City Golf Tournament championship at Otis Park.
Sanders, about to enter her junior year with the Stars, carded career-best rounds to edge former teammate and All-State performer Taylor Norman (77-72) by one stroke.
Entering Sunday’s final round at Otis Park with a 3-shot advantage, Sanders carded three birdies and avoided big-number mistakes to claim the coveted crown.
“There’s been really good people who have won this tournament,” said Sanders, who has helped BNL qualify for back-to-back appearances in the IHSAA state finals. “It’s a big honor. I didn’t sleep much, I was nervous going into the second day. I wasn’t sure I would be able to win it.”
If she was antsy, she didn’t show it. She charged from the gate with birdies on holes 2 (a wedge to 10 feet) and 3 (7-iron to 20 feet on the fringe), and that momentum was key. She later added another birdie on the 14th (from 15 feet).
When she did slip, the error only cost her one shot – until an adventure in a bunker led to double-bogey on the 17th and allowed Norman to creep close.
“She went head to head with an All-Stater the last two days and came out on top,” Aaron Sanders said. “Taylor did a nice job. She just caught Olivia on a bad weekend where she was playing well.
“Her tempo was really good, her timing was good, and she never made a big number (two doubles in 36 holes). She’s really good with the full swing right now, and she hit a lot of greens.”
Sanders’ previous career best was 76, but she lowered that (and jacked her confidence in the opposite direction) with improved putting and the proper instruction from her coach/caddy on the bag.
“We bond really well,” Olivia said. “Just him being there helped calm me down. He knows what to do. He would tell me what to do and I would do it. Sometimes he was wrong, but most times he would be right. And I had a good mindset, knowing I was going to make a putt, going with it and just making it happen.”
“We didn’t talk too much game until it was time to hit the shot,” Aaron said. “She has a short memory when it comes to golf, and you have to have that. One of her strengths is to shake off shots and keep moving forward.”
With BNL’s 2019 campaign set to start in early August, Sanders made a step forward to claim the No.1 position, with Norman on her way to play college golf at Saint Francis.
“She starting to see she can do that,” Aaron said. “She knows now she can take over from Taylor as one of those go-to gals, one of those we can depend on for a low score every time out.”
BEDFORD WOMEN’S CITY CHAMPIONSHIP
2001 — Betty Lou Hale
2002 — Leslie Thompson
2003 — Peggy Tripp
2004 — Melissa Alvey
2005 — Lynn Hane
2006 — Lynn Hane
2007 — Lynn Hane
2008 — Marsha Mathews
2009 — Sara Shoufler
2010 — Marsha Mathews
2011 — Kori Jacobsen
2012 — Kennedy Holtsclaw
2013 — Kori Jacobsen
2014 — Kennedy Holtsclaw
2015 — Kennedy Holtsclaw
2016 — Kennedy Holtsclaw
2017 — Kennedy Holtsclaw
2018 — Kori Jacobsen
2019 — Olivia Sanders