Led by senior Sam Miller, the Falcons are streaking toward a regular-season conference championship

In what is becoming a familiar refrain, Liberty convincingly won two more Northwest Oregon Conference girls golf tournaments this month to remain undefeated on the HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Liberty junior McKenzie Oster (foreground) and senior Sam Miller hit balls during the Falcons' golf practice on Monday afternoon.

The Falcons blew away the field last Tuesday at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks, then picked up another runaway victory this week at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course in Newberg, one of the toughest tracks in the state.

Liberty senior Sam Miller earned individual medalist honors in both tournaments, keeping alive her string of five consecutive victories, and junior McKenzie Oster finished second in both events.

“We’ve been fairly consistent with our play. We haven’t really had a down week,” said Liberty coach Stuart Kivett. “My team is very solid, and they’re just the sweetest group of young ladies. They make my job easy.”

Using a Modified Stableford scoring system (see box on page A14), Liberty won last Tuesday’s tournament with a total score of 203. Runner-up Sandy had a score of 136, followed by Wilsonville at 130. This week at Chehalem Glenn, the Falcons posted a score of 170 to once again win going away. Wilsonville finished second with 130 points.

At the Quail Valley tournament, Miller posted an individual score of 65 to win easily, while Oster was close behind in second place at 59. Sophomore Stephanie Miller finished third overall with a 57. Liberty’s team score was rounded out by sophomore Amanda Takara (22) and Elaina Maki (16).

At Chehalem Glenn, Sam Miller won with a score of 61, followed by Oster in second place at 59, and Steph Miller took fourth with a 38. Takara (14) and Maki (13) once again filled out the Falcons’ team score.

The conference’s Modified Stableford scoring system may be tough for some longtime golfers to grasp, but Kivett said it’s very helpful for novice golfers, who might ordinarily get frustrated as their stroke play score climbs higher and higher.

“We’re so used to thinking of golf as a stroke game where lower is better, but this is really cool because it’s almost like match play,” Kivett said. “If you blow up one hole, who cares? You make an ‘X’ on your score card and you move on to the next hole.”

While the talent on his roster is undeniable, Kivett said his main role as coach isn’t to fiddle with his players’ mechanics, it is simply to teach them to enjoy the game of golf.

“The nice thing about this group is that I never have to push them. I just manage them. They already know how to play,” he said. “Several of them are members at Rock Creek (Country Club) and they have their own swing coaches. I don’t try to mess with that.

“Because golf can be such a frustrating game, my job is to make things lighthearted. I try to make practices fun.”

Kivett’s cause is aided by the fact that all of his players get along well and constantly encourage each other.

“I think that’s one of our secrets — the girls all get along with each other and are good friends,” he said. “When they finish their rounds, they go back out on the course to cheer on the other players and they’re always supporting each other. I think that loosens everybody up.”

With the Falcons streaking toward a NWOC title, the next task to focus on is the Class 5A state tournament, where Sam Miller will look to improve on last year’s seventh-place finish.

“She’s really dedicated herself to improve,” Kivett said. “She’s very serious about winning a state title, both as an individual and as a team.”

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