Home Editor's Picks DRidge’s Criswell takes on Pebble Beach, Beyer takes over No. 1

DRidge’s Criswell takes on Pebble Beach, Beyer takes over No. 1

Desert Ridge senior Kaitlynn Criswell is participating in a PGA Tour Champions event this weekend at Pebble Beach Golf Links. (Photo courtesy of the Criswell family)

One came to the game late, but has hit her stride, while the other has put so much time in she earned the opportunity to hit a golf ball on one of the world’s most famous courses.

Together Brooke Beyer and Kaitlynn Criswell give Desert Ridge girls golf a pretty good tandem in the Jaguars lineup.

“They really push each other,” Desert Ridge coach Nicholas Steinkemper said. “Last year Kaitlynn was the No. 1, but Brooke had a great summer and it has led to a great start to the season. They’re competitive and push each to get better.”

Criswell was away from the team this week as she was selected to play in The Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Carmel, Calif., after reaching the highest level of volunteered time for The First Tee golf programs.

The Pure Insurance Championship is a three-day event for the senior tour with the first round at Poppy Hills Golf Course and the second round at Pebble Beach.

The top 30 teams head to Pebble Beach for the third round and the rest of the field play Poppy Hills again.

Each of the 81 foursomes in this special event includes a PGA Tour Champions pro, a First Tee junior (ages 14 to 18) and two amateurs.

Criswell, a senior, has been teamed up with Kirk Triplett, who was tied for 36th last year after shooting a 71-70-75-216.

Desert Ridge senior Kaitlynn Criswell is in the same group as Kirk Triplett this weekend as part of the First Tee program. (Photo courtesy of the Criswell family)

The opportunity she has is not lost on Criswell when the tournament starts on Friday.

“When I first found out I was jumping up and down on my bed. I was so excited,” she said. “Now, that it is here I am going to be so nervous on the first hole. It’s a huge event. Once I hit that first ball, I’m sure I will be OK.

“I can’t wait for it to happen.”

Criswell, who is averaging 38.7 per nine holes for the Jaguars, has a chance to end up on national TV on the final day if the team plays well enough.

“That’s the goal,” she said. “If nothing else the experience is huge and I can’t wait to go to the pro shop.”

Desert Ridge senior Kaitlynn Criswell gets to play Poppy Hills and the famous Pebble Beach course this weekend as part of the PGA Champions Tour event. (Photo courtesy of the Criswell family)

And once she gets back with the Jaguars it is back to trying to overtake Beyer, who has been on quite the role since the start of summer.

“I want to get my No. 1 spot back,” Criswell said. “It makes us both better. Tough competition always makes you try harder to get better.”

Beyer, who is averaging 38.4 per nine holes, is up for the Junior Golf Association of Arizona player of the year after winning eight events since January while finishing runner-up four other times in 15 starts in the 15-18 age division.

Desert Ridge junior Brooke Beyer won eight tournaments over the summer and one so far this high school season. (Jason P. Skoda/MyNewsMesa.com)

She has only been playing since she was a freshman after spending a lot of time in the pool as a competitive swimmer.

She played OK early, finishing in a tie 64th at the state tournament as a freshman, but started putting things together when she started working with former Desert Ridge golfer Justin Searles, who is a teaching pro at Lone Tree and also helps her breakdown a course the day before an event by going over each hole at the course.

“Something just clicked when I started working with him,” she said. “I had a good swing. I had to learn course management and how to get the ball into the hole faster.”

Beyer finished eighth in state as a sophomore and top five in the range this season. She won the Tempe Invitational last weekend and has shown she can play with the top players in the state.

Desert Ridge’s Brooke Beyer is called up to receive her medalist medallion after winning the Tempe Invitational. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Beyer).

One of the keys for her has been not letting the grind of the game or a bad shot affect her attitude. Her ball marker on her visor during the first round of the Gilbert City golf tournament said it all: “Relax.”

“My attitude was perfect when I got there,” Beyer said of the win at Ken McDonald Golf Course. “I felt good, and on the golf course I did what I needed. Freshman year I was always rush, rush, rush. Last year I realized to control yourself you have to relax and breathe.

“So, every time I go to putt it is right there in my face when I use the ball marker. Relax and do what you know to do.”

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

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