Calm And Confident, Schalk Ready To Lead Buffs At Pac-12 Championship
BOULDER — Calm and confident.
For University of Colorado sophomore Hailey Schalk, they are two defining traits that have served her well on the golf course during her break-out spring season. Two traits she will likely lean on as she leads the Buffaloes into the 2022 Pac-12 Conference Women's Golf Championship, April 18-20, at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
"It's a hard thing to do within golf (keeping calm and confident), just because it's so difficult and such a hard mentality," Schalk said. "I think by staying calm and collected and also confident with my shots and everything that I'm doing out there, it's really helped me to produce better scores this semester."
The Erie, Colo., naitive is averaging a team-best 74.0 strokes a round through 18 starts this spring, essentially 2-over par, and nearly two strokes better than her fall season (75.9).
She's been even better lately. Schalk has shot even-par the last two tournaments, netting career-best 54-hole scores of 216 at the PING/ASU Invitational and the Chevron Silverado Showdown. She has shot even-par or better in four of her last five rounds including back-to-back 1-under, 71's, to place ninth at Silverado, her first career Top 10 finish.
"I think that last semester, I struggled with my driver a little bit and I've gotten back to swinging really well with that," Schalk said. "And I think that when I'm swinging well with my driver, everything else kind of pieces together. So that's been really helpful."
Schalk's recent run has put her atop Colorado's overall season stroke average at just under 75 per round. She has been Colorado's low scorer in the last four events.
"Hailey has worked hard over the course of her two years at CU and it's nice to see that work starting to pay off," CU head coach Anne Kelly said. "Not only has her ball striking improved, but she has made big strides with her short game and course management skills."
"No matter how much success a golfer has had in high school or junior golf, it takes time to adjust to the college level, especially in the Pac-12 Conference. The exciting part for Hailey is she has more in her and the opportunity to compete with the best amateur players in the world in this conference."
Competing with the best is certainly an appropriate statement for the Pac-12 Championship. The 54-hole stroke play tournament will feature nine of Golfweek's Top 50 ranked programs including top-ranked Stanford and host Oregon, currently ranked second. No. 9 USC is the two-time defending Pac-12 champion (2019 and 2021).
Along with Schalk, Diane Baillieux, Ellie Gower, Natalie Vo and Malak Bouraeda will represent the Buffaloes. Issy Simpson will travel to Eugene as a substitution if needed. Baillieux and Gower are second and third respectively in stroke average, separated by just a fraction of a stroke and both just over 75 per round. Baillieux holds Colorado's low round of the season with a 67 at the Dick McGuire Invite in September. Gower has the Buffaloes' low 54-hole score, shooting 211 (2-under) at the Stanford Intercollegiate in October.
The Eugene Country Club will host the Pac-12 Championship for the fourth time and will play at a par 72 and at 6,267 yards. The championship will consist of three rounds; 18-holes played each day. Tee times are set for 10 a.m. MDT on Monday and Tuesday with Wednesday's third and final round scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. MDT. Rain is in the forecast all three days.
"The Pac 12 Championship is always a highly competitive event with some of the top ranked teams in college golf," Kelly said. "Our team has continually improved over the course of the spring season and recently has beat a number of ranked teams. It's been a very challenging semester with the weather conditions at home, but our team has persevered, worked hard and believes our best golf is yet to come. Eugene CC is a tough course and the weather forecast is not the best, but our team is ready to face any of the conditions and do the best we can each day."
Live scoring of the Pac-12 Championship can be accessed at golfstat.com. The Pac-12 Network will air a special half-hour recap on Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m. For more information on the championship, visit www.pac-12.com/WGolfChamps.