Midway sophomore Mia Ayer figures she’ll take her best, most aggressive swing at the Class 5A girls’ state golf tournament this week and see where she ends up.
The strategy, after all, worked amazingly well in the regional tournament.
Two weeks ago, Ayer reached No. 7 at The Rawls Course in Lubbock, her 16th hole of the first round after she teed off on No. 10. Ayer eyed the line on the 280-yard par-4, knowing she had a stiff West Texas wind at her back. She pulled out driver and let it rip for the green.
She saw the ball roll up on the green and take the slope toward the hole. And that was it. She trudged up the fairway expecting to find her ball on the green, but when she reached it, there was no ball to be found. Slightly panicked, she searched the bunker in front of the green and worried she had smoked her drive into the trees behind the green. Midway coach Harvie Welch joined in the search and they checked to make sure a competitor hadn’t chipped the wrong ball.
“I was beginning to think that I hit it in the woods or it hit something crazy and I’d lost it,” Ayer said.
And then Ayer’s last-ditch inclination was to look in the hole. And there it was. Her ball in the hole for an ace on a par-4. In golf terms it’s known as a double-eagle, an albatross and the absolute pinnacle of a great shot mixed with fantastic fortune.
Welch said Ayer’s competitors along with the parents following the group went into hysterics, not believing what they had witnessed. But Ayer took it in stride.
“I was really relieved,” she said. “It wasn’t really a flood of emotions. It was just kind of ‘cool.’ It felt unreal a little bit.”
Welch witnessed the news and shock of the albatross ripping through the spectators and players at The Rawls Course.
“I went up on No. 9 because they were finishing on the front,” Welch said. “This coach got a call and he goes, ‘No, no she made a hole-in-one on the par 3, not the par 4.’ And I was like ‘Nope. It was on the par 4.’ ”
Ayer’s double-eagle helped her card an opening round of even-par 72. She followed that with a second round 2-under 70 to finish in second place, a stroke behind regional champion Claire Carlin of Keller.
With the regional performance, Ayer earned her first entry in the state golf tournament. She tees off in the first round at 12:20 Monday at Onion Creek Golf Club in Austin.
Already owning fully exempt status on the American Junior Golf Association circuit, Ayer was an accomplished junior golfer before she began her high school career. She moved to Midway before the beginning of her freshman year but was unable to compete in varsity athletics. Ayer’s father, Christopher Ayer, is a professor of clarinet at Stephen F. Austin University while her mother, Kae Hosoda-Ayer, is a professor of piano at Baylor. Hosoda-Ayer commuted from Waco to Nacogdoches when Ayer was in middle school. But Ayer opted to move into her mother’s Waco residence and attend Midway as a freshman. The University Interscholastic League ruled that it meant Ayer couldn’t play varsity golf as a freshman.
But Ayer has made up for the lost time. Despite playing in her first regional tournament, she approached it with the demeanor of a seasoned pro.
“I was just keeping a confident mindset and going for shots and committing to every shot,” Ayer said. “I had a better mindset going into the second day. Just a go-for-it attitude.”
She said she’ll take that same approach to the state tournament this week.
“I’m not really expecting to finish first, like I’m going to dominate,” Ayer said. “I don’t want to focus on finishing well, but just playing the golf course well and keeping a good mindset throughout the round.”
Class 5A: Matthew Lawyer, Belton; Mia Ayer, Midway
Class 3A: Robinson boys (Chase Allison, Caleb Dorton, Austin Hector, Logan Hector, RJ Putnam); Lorena girls (Kayla Hardin, Claire Lloyd, Stellie Priest, Jackie Spann, Jenna Thompson); Zane Washburn, Gatesville; Jacklyn Milligan, Robinson
Class 1A: Lauren Hayes, Dawson