Challis golfer Kelli Ann Strand and the other members of team Idaho placed second in the Girls Junior Americas Cup, held last week at the BanBury Golf Course in Eagle. Strand finished second in individual scoring.
The second-place finish was a first for Idaho. Idaho trailed the eventual first-place team of Mexico as the third and final round of the tournament began. The Idaho girls jumped into first place, by one stroke, after playing the first four holes on Day 3. But team Mexico stood strong through the remaining 14 holes to win with a 19-under par score. Idaho finished with a combined score of 610, 16 under par.
The Southern California team finished third. Team member Kylie Chong of Los Angeles had the top individual score of 200, 13-under par. Strand ended up 9-under par with her score of 204, shooting 72, 64 and 68 each day.
Strand said Chong is “definitely a good golfer,” and like all the competitors is “super nice.”
The top three team spots were held all three days by the eventual winners although the order shuffled at the end when Idaho moved into second place.
“With a staggering performance across all four teammates, team Idaho made history,” the Idaho Golf Association reported. “Team Idaho started off strong and finished even stronger with their jump from third place to second” in the three-day tourney.
The golf association said in a release that the team members “played with passion and heart. Strand’s teammates were Carly Carter, Emily Cadwell and Brooke Patterson, all from the Boise area. The girls are considered Idaho’s top young golfers and were chosen by tournament judges to represent the state in the 16-team tournament.
Team Idaho pushed into second place at the end of Day 2 by going 10-under as a team, surpassing the Southern California team by 4 strokes after holding the No. 3 spot at the end of the first day of play.
Day 2 was Strand’s most impressive play. She entered Day 2 one-over with her 72 and then shot a 7-under 64, the lowest score of the tournament.
“Strand put up a staggering eight birdies on holes 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 18,” the golf association reported.
Strand said she loves the BanBury course. It’s where she won the John Dropping Junior Championship in 2019 and 2021 and says she’s played it enough to be pretty familiar with the course.
Looking back on the tourney, Strand admitted that the first round “was not my best.” But she pointed out team Idaho finished the first day 1-under par, an impressive score. They were in third place and just four shots back. “So on the second day we knew we needed to shoot well.”
After the first day, Strand said she felt relaxed heading into Day 2, and knew she was part of a good, solid team.
Strand said she and her teammates spent about eight hours a day each day on the course between playing a round, warming up and practicing afterwards.
“We’re there all day, but it’s OK because we all love it,” she said.
Strand didn’t square off against any of her teammates during the high school golf season, because their high schools are in different classifications than Challis plays in. But she’s known the three girls for a few years because they play in the same summer tournaments every year.
“I’m really proud of my team,” she said. “I’m grateful I got to play with these girls and to represent Idaho.”
The Americas Cup tourney draws college coaches in the spectator throng. Strand said she talked “a little” with some coaches at the event. She has previously said while she’d love to earn a college golf scholarship she doesn’t have her eye on any particular school.
Her brother, Lane, was awarded a golf scholarship to Northwest Nazarene University. He’ll return to Nampa in the fall for his sophomore year.