Burlington High School senior Izzy Taylor was all smiles on Monday.
Taylor not only shot the best round of golf in her life — an 89 — she was presented a bouquet of flowers for Senior Day from her father, Mitch Taylor, who also happens to be the Grayhounds’ head girls golf coach.
To top things off, Burlington played its best tournament of the season, carding a 393 to finish fifth in the 10-team Grayhound Invitational at Flint Hills Municipal Golf Course.
For Izzi Taylor, it was a day she never will forget as her golf career winds to a close.
“It feels pretty good. I shot my best that I have all season and all of my high school years. I felt really good today,” said Taylor, who will attend the University of Iowa in the fall to pursue a degree in Business Analytics and Information Systems before entering Law School. “I feel pretty good. I’m really proud of myself with all the people that were here. I’m really proud of the team. That’s one of our best scores of the season as a team, too.”
“There were a few trying times between coach and daughter. But it’s been real rewarding. I’m glad I did it. I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Mitch Taylor, who is a lawyer. “That’s one thing that happens, too, when you are the coach and you are looking at your daughter. We are not looking at her score. She shot an 89. I don’t think she’s ever been under 90. That’s outstanding. That’s good stuff.”
While Izzi Taylor was having the round of her life, sophomore Lauren Briggs was struggling to find her game. Briggs got off to a tough start before a little pep talk from Coach Taylor calmed her down and she was able to right the ship.
“Mitch really helped me. Just having someone to talk to about it instead of keeping it all inside, realizing there were a lot more holes to play and I could fix it,” said Briggs, who finished as runner-up medalist with an 81. “He was talking about deep breaths. Just being comforting, acknowledging my feelings, but also letting me know that there was more to do and I could keep going and do better.”
Briggs was able to end on a high note, knocking her approach shot on the par-4 finishing hole to three feet and tapping in for a birdie.
“I’m glad that I could finish strong. I hit a great drive for once and a nice chip and one putt,” Briggs said. “It makes the round feel better to end on a good note. Not focus on all the bad holes. Just think about the last hole.”
Elaina Murders is the most improved player on the BHS team. She was at it again Monday, carding four pars on her way to a 107.
“It runs in the family, so I’ve always been kind of interested in it. My grandparents played and sometimes we would go with them,” Murders said. “The girls I golf with are really nice and very supportive of each other. We’re all here for one another.”
“Elaina plays three, four or five,” Coach Taylor said. “She never bats an eye at an opportunity to play and she always scores third, no matter where you put her. She’s gone from a consistent 70 or 80 on nine to where we can count on her in the 60s all the time now.”
Dilynn Taeger had a slow start to her round, but turned things around with a par on hole No. 5, reaching the green with her drive, then putting out from there.
“I was just really tired. I just wasn’t in it at the start. As the day went on I got better,” said Taeger, who shot a 112. “I fixed my swing and where I was aiming and it was just going where I needed it to.”
Also for Burlington, Edie Bloom shot a 116 and Hannah Wentzel had a 134.
Mount Pleasant’s Samantha Wibben used her prior knowledge of the course to her advantage, carding an 82 to finish third.
It definitely was a struggle today with my tee shots and the greens were especially very difficult to try to get around today,” Wibben said. “It gives me very good confidence because every time I’ve played this year I’ve improved my score. I’ve improved by sever strokes from Edmundson two weeks ago.”
Natalie Ames shot an 87 to finish sixth and help the Chiefs finish fourth with a 381.
But this day belonged to Izzi Taylor, who made her Senior Day one to remember. She topped it off with a birdie on 18.
“It feels really good because I can see all of our hard work paying off with our scores and our attitude. It feels really good to be back in the competition,” Izzi Taylor said. “(My Dad) is there to help with the attitude. We don’t do too much coaching during the golf meet. That’s been really good because I feel like I can do what I’ve been taught and not feel like I’m being nagged on out on the course.”
“It’s a little bittersweet. She’s my youngest. Her mother and I are real proud of her,” Coach Taylor said. “She’s played decent golf. She’s been a real solid teammate to Lauren and to Elaina and Edie and Sofia (Ball) and Dilynn and the other girls. That’s all bittersweet. We’re seeing her leave the nest and going up to Iowa. It’s been fun to watch her all four years.”
Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA TODAY Network in Burlington, Iowa, who has covered local sports for 31 years. Reach him at [email protected]
At Flint Hills Municipal Golf Course
Yardage: 6,246; Par 71
1. Bettendorf, 345; 2. Washington, 361; 3. Davenport West, 371; 4. Keokuk, 381; 5. Burlington, 393; 6. Fairfield, 398; 7. Davenport North, 401; 8. Davenport Assumption, 432; 9. Muscatine, 507. Mount Pleasant did not have enough players for a team score.
Top 10 medalists
1. Shannyn Vogler, Bettendorf, 72; 2. Lauren Briggs, Burlington, 81; 3. Samantha Wibben, Mount Pleasant, 82; 4. Makenna Conrad, Washington, 84; 5. Kaylin Long, Washington, 86; 6. Natalie Ames, Keokuk, 87; 7. tie, Sarah Gies, Bettendorf and Kyle Dayvejonck, Davenport West, 88; 9. tie, Victoria Batey, Bettendorf, Maddy Wardlow, Davenport North and Viola Welsh, Fairfield, 90.
Burlington — Briggs, 81; Izzi Taylor, 89; Elaina Murders, 107; Dilynn Taeger, 112; Edie Bloom, 116; Hannah Wentzel, 134.
Keokuk — Ames, 87; Chloe Ruhl, 92; Allison Ames, 101; Heidi Rose, 111; Kaylie Watson, 101; Anna Hinton, 103.
Mount Pleasant — Samantha Wibben, 82; Kylie Walderbach, 106